All you kids remember certain happenings to which you looked forward with much anticipation, I’m sure. Remember the birthday party that you and your Daddy planned in secret? How you found occasions to whisper about your plans; how you decided that you would, for a change, get up before your regular time, get the breakfast table ready; and get the breakfast made, all before your Mom got up? And how pleased she was? Of course, the best part of the surprise was the gift you two had bought for her! And, to put the frosting on the cake, so to speak, you then told her that your Daddy was going to take the whole family out to dinner that special evening! Then, oh, she knew it all the time, but she was again assured by her family that you loved her as a special mother in your eyes. What fun that was: the secret plans, awaiting the day, the realization of it, and the smile on her face! Oh, it was worth it all. Besides, that birthday party lasted much longer than that day—it lasted all year whenever she recollected it. How she remembered that after that dinner she did not have to wash the dishes, clean up the table and put all things in order again. How she remembered the good time when you came home from dinner and you all gathered around the dining room table for a game of dominoes. She even caught you at trying to have her win, but she would have none of that! That one event, you enjoyed the preparation for it, experiencing it, and the lasting benefit of it!
And how about the church picnic prepared by the Sunday School teachers! That day took much planning: choice of food; ball and bats for the soft-ball game; horseshoes and stakes for men to play with; the children’s game and the prizes given to the winners. Do you remember that you would be anxiously sitting in the car an hour ahead of time, just relishing the fun you would have, hardly accepting the delay? Then when everyone finally was ready you started for the park. Arriving in the parking places for the cars you eagerly looked for your favorite pals with whom you could best enjoy the games and things. You could hardly be pulled away from the games area to come to the table at mealtime. Potato salad, beans, soft drinks, and, last but not least, a big slice of red juicy watermelon! After supper some of you boys would watch the men play ball; the girls would have their own version of fun; but each and every one of you would have such a good time that none would really be ready to go home. Remember how the little ones would fall asleep in the car because they were much more tired than they were ready to admit. Again, you enjoyed the preparation, the actual experiencing, the lasting enjoyment of it for days to come.
And remember how many months you looked forward to your Dad’s annual vacation from his work. That year that you went to a cottage for two weeks was one you would never forget. And the preparations for it were almost endless in your impatience for The Big Day! I don’t exactly know what the girls had to do, because there were no daughters in your Gramps’ family, but I can imagine that your Mom found plenty for them to do. I do know that the boys were assigned tasks that were necessary for proper cottage life. To be sure, they had to dig worms for bait; even early morning search for night crawlers. And then the day came! The cane poles were tied to the side of the car, worm supply in the trunk, and what room was left was used for groceries and suitable clothing. Again, the enjoyment consisted of the preparation, the actual two weeks of cottage life, and remembering it for weeks to come.
Remember the camping trip your four friends took last year? You made a list of necessary things to take along, not forgetting the medication for poison ivy rash. Oh, how you were on the lookout for that pretty three-leaved vine climbing a fence post, or running along the ground. The tent had to be prepared and had to be waterproofed. The site for the tent had to be carefully picked; the fold-up table for eating when it was raining outside at the picnic table; the gasoline lantern for evening activities in the tent had to be stored quite carefully, and the hair-raising story books must not be forgotten. Again, the preparation, the actual camping, and the weeks of telling your various friends about it all added to the enjoyments.
And, even I remember the short European trip you took one summer. A couple of your school teachers sponsored and led it. You had to make several preparations for that special vacation trip! You had to obtain visas for entry into the foreign land. Dictionaries of foreign phrases had to be carefully studied and the pronouncing of each practiced among you. One wanted to be sure that when you ordered ham and eggs for breakfast one wouldn’t be served shoe polish and a buffing rag. A good guide book to direct you to special places that had to be visited, and all spots of sight-seeing value. Ethnic foods of that locale were to be tried, and wanted to be remembered for their good taste. Oh the weeks of preparation that went into that trip! And the actual experiencing of the people-life of each country visited and the remembering of the whole deal stayed with you for months. You often re-remembered those experiences many times as you shared them with your friends.
This letter is getting so long again and I almost forgot what I was leading up to. I can almost hear you say, “I thought all this writing about preparation, enjoyment and the lasting value is leading up to something. I bet Gramps is going to preach to us again.” Right. I am going to call to mind an Experience each one of my grandchildren will live through some day soon. Did you notice the capital letter before that long word? I did that because it is a once-in-a-lifetime Experience. And that experience is somewhat different from most experiences we have. Most “just happen” to us. But that one to which I am referring is one by decision of our own.
By now, I suppose, you must have a hint. You young people all must meet that decision head on soon. And you want to also. You want to make public confession of your faith as soon as possible. You want to search your thoughts regarding your calling in God’s Church. You want to tell your parents, and you want to tell your consistory, and you want to stand up in church to tell everyone that you belong to your faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. You are eager to praise God in public that He has given you the New Birth; that you have put off the old man and that you are ready to walk in “a new and heavenly life.”
So let’s look forward to our goal, like the other goals we wrote about in the beginning of our letter. Let’s get ready to enjoy the reaching of that goal; let’s think about the actual living in full communion with the saints in your church. That “full communion” includes sitting at the Table of the Lord, the communion table where we eat bread and drink wine as a true picture of eating and drinking Christ.
Now, boys and girls, isn’t that a worthwhile goal, a worthwhile fruition and enjoyment of highest value? To ask it is to answer it. May you soon act according to that inward desire of your hearts.