Proverbs 20:29 “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.”
“Experts impress. A sage draws you to God.” John Eldredge
It was 1996. I was in 8th grade. One of my teachers was named Mr. Caldwell, and he was one of the good ones. I had a way of turning good teachers into crazy teachers due to my extreme ADD. But Mr. Caldwell didn’t go crazy. He loved me, and I learned about Jesus from him.
Fast forward 20 years. This year Mr. Caldwell and I reconnected. He heard about our new church plant in Carbondale Illinois, and he wanted to help. We got together at Panera in January and have been meeting weekly ever since. I now know Mr. Caldwell, after much practice, as Curt. Curt continues to teach me about Jesus. First, a little back story.
Curt is 65 years old. He came to Southern Illinois after growing up in California. He was a stand out water polo and volleyball player at USC. Cool guy! He met Jesus around that time, and his life would change forever. Curt got married to an incredible lady named Catherine. They soon received a call from God to move from Southern Cal to Southern Illinois. From the time of their arrival, Curt has been an elder at numerous churches, principal and administrator of multiple schools, a volleyball coach, and many other things. Along the way, he was learning and growing in his understanding of God and the Bible. In an unsuspecting way he is a been there, done that kind of guy. He and his wife are now in their 60’s. Curt is my grey-haired mentor.
What have I learned you ask? So much! To start, Curt has taught me about the Omnipresence of God. Theologically, I have always ascribed to this doctrine, but Curt actually believes it in practice. I have never met a person who can see the work of God the way he does. It is like he has supernatural, Christian X-Man goggles into the activity of the Holy Spirit. When I see the natural, Curt helps me see the supernatural. God helps theology come to life through time with Curt.
That is not all. My grey-haired mentor, actually believes in prayer. Ever met someone like that? I mean he actually believes prayer works as a part of God’s sovereign plan. He is always praying and praying about everything. Sometimes I feel like my motto could be “Why pray when you could worry?” Not Curt. He prays for our city; he prays for our church; he prays for other churches, for the lost, for God’s glory, and against principalities and powers. Since being around Curt, I have been convicted and convinced that Christians don’t just need to pray we have to pray. If we don’t pray, we can’t make it!
I have also learned about discipleship from Curt. When we get together at Panera, he opens up his notebook. In that notebook are pages of Bible verses and prayers. After a month or so of meeting with him, I noticed my name in that blue notebook. What I found out amazed me. My friend puts my name down anytime he has something that makes him think of me. Curt is not just for Curt. He is for me.
Last but not least, Curt and Catherine know how to suffer well. Catherine has been dealing with cancer for the last seven years. Yes, you read that correctly, seven years. I have watched them as they have suffered. God is being honored. I am amazed to see their gift of hospitality grow, not weaken, as it walks hand in hand with the awful gift of suffering. These two people have as much passion and zeal for Jesus as any two people I have ever met, and it is in the midst of deep physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. Where there should be only sorrow, joy shines through. Jesus is showing our church and the city of Carbondale how great He is through the pain and joy of the Caldwell’s.
Few of you will get the chance to be mentored by Curt Caldwell. But, do whatever it takes to put yourself around men like him. You will be blessed.
Curt, thank you for investing in me.