Ages Yet to Come

By Bob Elkin


I have an older sister who spoils me rotten which I love.  When we lived in the West Indies she’d send down a parcel every couple of months filled with the good stuff you just couldn’t get down there.  We got current books and Maple Syrup and once a smoked fillet of salmon that was vacuumed packed so it wouldn’t spoil and so on.  She always included the unusual which added an extra element of delight to every package we received.  This continued when we returned to Canada so it didn’t overly surprise me  when she phoned before my birthday several years back  and said she wanted to buy me a tree and what would I like?  I knew exactly what I wanted:  a black walnut.  There were a lot of them around where I grew up and I knew such a tree would do OK where I live now because there is one in  Blind River  which is just down the highway.  I suppose there must be two in Blind River since the one I know about is covered with walnuts every year and I think even  trees require two to tango.  It’s true for black walnuts anyway because two were sent to me by the nursery my sister deals with accompanied by a third one “just in case one of the original two dies”.  We planted the trees and sat back to await our bounty of nuts.

That was about eight years ago and we’re still waiting.  All three trees took and they grew pretty well but no sign of a walnut appeared.  I was beginning to wonder if we’d been unlucky in the Black Walnut gender lottery when someone happened to mention that you don’t get walnuts off a tree for the first fifteen or twenty years.  That created a new perspective.  By the time the nuts appear I probably won’t have any teeth to chew them with and that’s when I realized that some trees are planted not for your pleasure but for future generations to enjoy.   So I just watch my walnut trees slowly growing and imagine all the good eating  that they’ll provide for somebody sometime down the road.

A lot of things are like that.   When some of my children were in their teens I wondered if they had picked up any of the values that my wife and I held dear and  tried to instill in them.  Preacher’s and cop’s kids are famous for being the baddest kids in the town and a couple of mine certainly did their best to live up to the image.  The only good thing about it was the cops understood what I was going through and gave my kids breaks when possible and I understood what the cops were going through and gave their kids prayers as needed.  In the end it worked out fine.  The kids that were having trouble (and causing trouble!) passed through the period relatively unscathed and are leading good lives and being great people.  Again, it was one of those future things.  At the time I thought it would never end well but it smoothed out and became wonderful and we discovered they had indeed picked up many of our values.  Go figure.

It gives me hope for the world and for the church.  The world produces some bad situations and some awful statistics but it has done that before and, like my children, things have eventually settled down and become OK.  It took a lot of work and often, a new way of doing things, but it happened and I think it can happen again.  The church struggles with some things too but it has struggled with various issues since the time of Christ and has resolved them and moved on.  When the struggles were happening I’m sure it all looked pretty black but the church moved through it, did what it had to do and emerged more able to be the church it was meant to be.   Things changed but they didn’t die and that’s the pattern for today too.

I once heard of a fellow at a Bible Study who was asked what his favorite Bible verse was.  “It came to pass” he immediately answered.  When asked to explain he replied:  “It never says it came to stay!”  I think we can  all relate to that.