In the quiet darkness of my moments of cynicism, I have sometimes wondered, “Is the notion of legacy mostly delusion? Is the idea of influence only an illusion?” I look back at the mountains of work I have done remodeling the houses and reshaping the places where I have lived. “One day, all of this is going to burn, rot, fall down or simply be removed by someone else. What then will remain of all my efforts, all my work? What treasures have I truly stored up in heaven?”
I try to reflect on my other efforts, labors of love, working with others, teaching, preaching, singing. Even writing. “Surely,” I think, “there must be some good in that, some things that have touched lives, shared blessings, brought a bit of comfort, extended the reach of God’s love in some slight way.” Every now and then, someone else will step in with a bit of encouragement. Sunday morning was one of those days.
Back in the early years of this millennium, I hired some students from Highland Community College (where I worked from 2004-2015) to help with some extensive cleaning and remodeling on the apartments we owned in Saint Joseph, Missouri. At the time, we lived just a few blocks away from the three-unit building. Buddy, Cody, Shayne, and Rhino spent hours and hours helping tear out old stuff, rebuild, paint, or just clean out decades of accumulated debris and junk in the basement.
It was hilarious watching Shayne and Rhino work in the lower level with its low ceilings and even lower piping. At six-five, Shayne couldn't even stand up in some rooms. Ryan would chuckle at him and walk right under the ductwork. All of them were really hard workers and great company.
On the Saturday mornings when we’d be working, Randa and I would have the student workers come over for breakfast. I’d fry up some sausage and make waffles; Randa would make a big skillet of scrambled eggs. I shared with the young men that this is how we began every Saturday morning at our house. “Whether we’re by ourselves or have company, if we are at home on Saturday, we have waffles.”
We’d all sit at the big table together and enjoy the meal, getting to know each other and enjoy each other’s company. Just seemed like a good way to start a day of labor together… and give some strong lads with hearty appetites a good dose of home cooking. I love sitting at table with people I like and love, sharing food, stories, and selves. I grew up that way with family, friends, church members. Just part of my culture and heritage, you could say.
Last Lord’s Day morning, I got a text message from one of those former students. Shayne and Kristen (who met at Highland) now have three kids of their own and have lived in northern Arkansas for several years. Shayne sent me a picture of a big electric griddle sitting on his kitchen counter with a box of Kodiak Cakes pancake and waffle mix sitting beside it. Nex to that, a big bottle of maple syrup.
“Pancakes and waffles have become a tradition for kicking off the weekend mornings in our house. Every time I am at the griddle I am reminded of the fond memories with you, Randa, and the crew with waffles and a full spread of goodies before we start our work!
“Little did I know at the time that I was being taught how food could be used for fellowship! After all, much of Jesus’ ministry was done around a table!”
We seldom know how the love we try to show affects someone else. Rarely, we’ll hear from one or two but have little or no clue from a dozen or a hundred others who share a similar view of something that we have done. That’s okay… it’s sure good to hear from the few.
And man, oh, man, what joy it is going to be to sit at table with all of them in that coming kingdom!
About Doc Arnett
Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.