By Jack McCall

You might say I am a big fan of the Nashville Symphony. I especially enjoy the symphony pops series.

Over the years I have enjoyed appearances by Tony Bennett, Dionne Warwick, Jose

Feliciano, Martina McBride, Riders in the Sky and John McDermott, just to name a few who have performed with the pops.

The Schermerhorn Symphony Center is one of the premier symphony concert halls in all of America. If you have a chance to attend any performance there you are in for a treat. As they say, “There’s not a bad seat in the house.”

Across the Miles
Jack McCall

When I learned that Johnny Rivers was performing with the pops, I marked my calendar. The night he came to town my wife, Kathy, and I took in the pops.

The week before, I was having a conversation with one of my son’s friends. I casually mentioned to him that I was going to see Johnny Rivers perform with the pops at the Schermerhorn next week. He gave me that furrowed brow, strange-eyed look that asked, “Who is Johnny Rivers?”

“You’ve never heard of Johnny Rivers?” I asked.

He shrugged his shoulders and gave me that strange-eyed look again. His reaction gave me pause to crunch a few numbers. I began by noting my son’s friend is 38 years old.

Johnny Rivers had major hit songs in the 1960s.

I would be reminded at the concert that Mr. Rivers’ career was at its zenith when a British band called The Beatles came on the scene in 1964. His was one of the few American music acts that didn’t immediately go into a downward spiral because of the British group’s popularity.

When I arrived early at the Schermerhorn, I was almost giddy with excitement. We took our seats in the balcony and watched the people as they began to file in. It soon became obvious to me that most of the ones attending this event had grey hair.

I further noted that a few were using walkers to get around. And many were having a little trouble negotiating the steps in the balcony. Then I had the thought, “This is an older crowd.” I had another thought: “I’m just one of the younger, old ones.”

I would realize later as Mr. Rivers did a few modified dance steps on stage and “played a guitar like ringing a bell” that he was all of 78 years old. He teased the audience by saying, “I know some of you came just to see how old I looked.”

Ever since I turned 55 and started on what I call “the downhill side of 50,” I have been giving more thought to the reality of growing old.

So when do we really become “old?” I’ve recently met some people in their fifties whom I considered old – really old. At the same time I’ve had the privilege lately of meeting three individuals in their nineties whom I would consider young. Maybe we could all take a lesson from Caleb in the Old Testament. Read Joshua 14:7-14.

In a world system that places so much emphasis on youth, I can’t help but believe that aging saints comprise one of the greatest earthly assets in the kingdom of God. There is a wisdom that comes with the accumulated experience of many years, especially in the area of prayer. Effectual prayer is a skill honed by practice over many years. Our greatest prayer warriors should be those of the graying hair. We must never underestimate our value in the kingdom’s work.

I have always treasured Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening.” One stanza reads:

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.”

May we as God’s aging children rededicate ourselves to accomplishing much in the miles we have to go before we sleep.

And along the way, I’m going to take in a few more concerts.