Three weeks ago, I began my ministry in the Sun Lakes Community. After moving boxes, shelves and pictures into my new office, I found myself in some need of outdoor time. I drove to one of our local country clubs, ordered a glass of tea, sat outside on the patio and enjoyed amazing Arizona weather. Shortly, a stately gentleman (about 80s or 90s) sat nearby. He looked at me and with a gruff and demanding voice said, “Young man, what’s a guy like you doing in a place like this?” Taken aback, I smiled and said, “Just enjoying a glass of tea, and you, sir, what are you doing here?” He answered, “I woke up this morning, noticed that I was still breathing (never take that for granted, son), slowly got out of bed, careful not to break anything (at my age, you never rush into anything); finding everything in order, I decided that I’m not dead, so I might as well get up, get dressed and come out into the world. (You never know what one might miss by staying inside.) So here I am, but you still have not told me why you are here. Young men dressed like you normally are trying to sell us old folks something. So, what you selling?” With a smile, I grabbed my tea, moved closer to him and shared that I really had nothing to sell – he can relax. I told him that I was new to the community; it was my first week in the area, and I was just simply taking a mid-day break. I told him that I was trying to learn the community, people and the different areas. He seemed open to conversation, so I continued, “Sir, what is your story?” His eyes lit up; he told me of growing up in Oklahoma, working farms, oil fields and factories. He said he met his wife, they fell in love, married, had and lost children. He told me of their move to Sun Lakes and how five short years later, cancer took his bride of 58 years. He had been alone now for 10+ years and was waiting for the Good Lord to take him home. My heart was broken, yet my soul was more resolved in what and where God has called me.
Thousands in our community are living this same story; neighbors, golf partners, poker clubs, who feel alone – because they are alone. We have the amazing opportunity to add joy to a hurting soul this week. Let’s do all we can to bring a smile, listen to a story, have a glass of tea with a total stranger.
By the way, as I left, he said, “You haven’t told me your story.” I said, “Can we do that next time?” He smiled and said “I can’t wait. I’m here every Thursday. Same time, same place. See you then!”