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A conversation with Robert Wolgemuth - S9.E2


WORLD Radio - A conversation with Robert Wolgemuth - S9.E2

What does it mean to finish life well? And why do so many men in their last years on earth give up on the work God has called them to do?

WARREN SMITH, HOST: If you’re a regular listener of “Listening In,” you know that I often close my conversations here with a question that sounds like this: “How do you want to be remembered? What legacy do you want to leave behind?”

Robert Wolgemuth has thought deeply about these questions, and he’s come to the conclusion that finishing well, running faithfully the last lap of life, the lap he calls the “gun lap,” is an important part of the answer to that question.

He got the idea from a fellow graduate of Taylor University.

ROBERT WOLGEMUTH, GUEST: I was a senior in college. He was a sophomore. And during my senior year, especially toward the end, my senior year, we come in like really late from being out whatever seniors in college do. And here's this lone figure running on abandoned country roads in north central Indiana. I'm thinking, who in the world? What is that? While he was getting up in the morning, I was finishing my day. And there was a kid named Ralph Foote. He was a sophomore at Taylor. And he was running. From a small farm town in Indiana, and he figured he could run. And he ran and he ran and he ran. And so it came time for the conference track meet. I had finished my finals and was getting ready to graduate from Taylor and George Glass, who was the track coach said, Hey, we're hosting the conference meet, we need some volunteers. I said, man, count me in. So I volunteered, you know, rake the pits for the high jump and the pole vault and so forth. But then it was time for the two mile. And I didn't have an assignment. So I crawled to the top of the tower and watched an amazing race. I'll never forget it, I write about it. And this is the first time I heard of the gun lap. It's a two mile around a quarter mile track. So when the race starts, the starter raises his hand, fires a gun, and the race is on. But when Ralph started, and he was leading, his eighth lap, which was his last lap, the starter fired the gun again. And I said to somebody who was there, I said, What was that? He said, Well, that's Ralph's, that's the lead runner's last lap. That's the gun lap. I have never forgotten that. And about a year and a half ago, as I began formulating the idea for this book, that metaphor came jumping right out at me. And that's exactly what I'm writing about. It's the last lap, my last lap, your last lap, or getting ready for your last lap, the gun lap. That's what it's about.

WS: I’m Warren Smith and today you’ll be listening in on my conversation with Robert Wolgemuth. His new book is Gun Lap: Staying In The Race With Purpose.

Support for Listening In comes from Samaritan Ministries, a community of Christians who care for one another spiritually and financially when a medical need arises.

Patrick and Melody liked the idea of a group of people coming together to share medical costs, and joined Samaritan Ministries in 2017. When they welcomed twin daughters, fellow members sent money directly to them to help them pay their medical bills. When the body of Christ comes together, burdens are lifted, and God is glorified. This applies to all areas of life, including health care. More at samaritan ministries dot org slash world podcast.

WS: Robert Wolgemuth has been one of the most influential evangelicals you’ve never heard of for decades. He was the president of Thomas Nelson Publishers, one of the largest, oldest, and most successful Christian book publishers in the world. In 1992, he became a literary agent, representing some of the most successful evangelical writers in the country.

But in the last few laps of his career, he has become a successful author himself, having written more than 20 books.

Robert’s life sounds like a fairy tale of moving from success to success, but it has not been without heartache. His first wife died of cancer. Today, he is married to the well-known author and radio Bible teacher Nancy DeMoss. We discuss that season of his life in this conversation.

Robert, you direct this book primarily towards men. But I think that there are lots of lessons here for anyone of a certain age preparing for their last lap. One of the things that I'm not a huge fan of track and field, but of course, since this is an Olympic year, I guess we are all fans to a certain extent. And one of the things that I know about your gun lap is in a race, in a real race, if you're running, you know, one of these middle to long distance races, is that your first lap might be fast. Yeah, but your middle laps are often not as fast. You put, you get into a rhythm. But if you're a real runner, that gun lap is the lap where you really pour it on. I mean, that's in some some races, the gun lap is the fastest lap.

RW: Exactly.

WS: for these races. And I think is that kind of what you're getting at as well? That we men are of a certain age should should not be looking to slow down but maybe even to speed up.

RW: Yeah, and I want to be careful about this. Because I don't know how you are physically I am just finishing an amazing 18 months with two cancers and all kinds of crazy stuff. COVID. So actually running, that could be a scary thing. Isaiah 40 talks about soaring, running, and walking, right? Those who wait on the Lord will soar. They'll run and they'll walk. So yes, the metaphor is important. And yes, in fact, Ralph Foot, the eighth lap on in that race in 1969 was the fastest. The next year, he did the very same thing. His eighth lap was the fastest of the two mile. But I don't want guys or their wives who are listening to this to say, Hey, you got to be kidding me. I can't run them. I'd dropped dead if I try to run like that. It's it's the the metaphor is the big idea about what you're going to do with this final lap in your life. It's not about death. The book is not about that. This is not about the finish line. This is about running. This is about living, this is about what you're going to do with this really important lap that you're running right now. So yeah, it may be metaphorically a really important lap to run. And there are things that you can do during this lap that you can't do any other time in the race. But I don't want guys who are listening to this to say, well, you mean this like a really a book about running? Like if I can't run faster in this lap than I did in any other lap, well forget it. No, that's not that's taking that's like the parables. The parables when were never intended to be exegeted. They're illustrations, right. So that's what this is, and, and my encouragement in the book, and that's really what it's supposed to be, an encouragement, is this is a great time for you to get serious about your life. You've experienced all kinds of things. Don't go retire to someplace where shuffleboard and square dancing is on the menu. You have a lot of mileage left in your tires to change the metaphor. And that's the reason for this book. That's my encouragement to men in this season.

WS: Well, you know, just to drive that point home a little bit with some data, Robert. You, in some of the PR material that you guys sent out for the book, you mentioned that 1/3 of men retire on their 62nd birthday, wherever they are, whenever they qualify for Social Security. Even at that fairly low level at 62 and a half or whatever it is they retire. And yet these days, we are often living longer. I mean, the average age in this country is in the high 70s. Many times if you live to your 65th birthday, actuarial tables say that you're likely to live past 80. And that means that you know, when you hit age 62 you could easily have, I mean, of course nobody no man knows his hour or time or day. Right? Right. But we could easily have 15 or 20 years ahead of us. And it would just be a sin, a crime, a tragedy to waste those years.

RW: Absolutely. Man that is ... preach it. Be, you be the preacher and I'm on the front row and I got my hands in the air. Preach it. That is exactly right. And we don't know how long we'll live. I'm 73. My daddy lived, and that's really what they look at first, right? He lived was mid 80s. My mother lived to 94. My grandmother lived to 105. So I mean, I've got some good long livers in my genealogy. So and I'm, you know, I want to live as though this is my last day. I should have pulled this quote up. Aristotle, I think, said treat your body like you're gonna live forever. Treat your soul like you're gonna die tomorrow. So there is a mix there. But yeah, I mean, I, I, we are living longer and I want to live well. I want these years to be the most important years of my life. And that's what I talk about in the book. What are you going to do with this? And, and part of it is, you know, I was diagnosed with cancer a year and a half ago. And that's really, Warren, when I decided I'm going to write this book. Because I came face to face with my own mortality in a real way. I had been primary caregiver for my wife. I was almost, married almost 45 years. And she went through a 30 month battle with cancer. And she showed me how to do this in an amazing way. So now I've got cancer, I've got cancer, and I'm thinking, Okay, I don't want to die, and I'm ready to die if that's what the Lord has for me. But what am I going to do with this time now? And so that was really the inspiration to get serious about putting some of these ideas down. I talk about examples that I had. Most men have three men for examples: their father, and their two grandfathers. And I unpack that in some detail about what what I want to emulate, and what I went to avoid. I take the guy, the reader, to the Home Depot or to the Lowe's and I explained the whole idea of culling. And, and I can talk about that now. Yeah, go ahead. Yeah.

WS: Well, in fact, Robert, I did. I wanted you to kind of, yeah, unpack some of these ideas that you think would be helpful to us and that idea of culling. I've got a couple more that I want to ask you about specifically, but since we're there, go ahead, dive in to that.

RW: Well, I, I love building. I'm looking out right now in my backyard. I've got 1000 foot deck that I built for my precious wife the year after we were married. She had no idea if I had any experience in building. If I'd know what to do. One of the first things I did was rent a posthole digger, you know, a power posthole digger. I dug 16 holes in our backyard. She'd been living in this house for 25 years. I was just moving there. And she's thinking, Okay, does this guy know what he's doing? Anyway, I built this deck.

WS: By the way, I should probably interrupt you here. You mentioned your first wife who died of cancer. You were her caregiver for 30 months, I think you said. You have since remarried to someone who many of our listeners might know. Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Nancy Wolgemuth now, of course. And so you've been married to her and and that's, that's the wife that there we're...

RW: Right? That's right. Yeah. In fact, just quickly, sidebar. And I'll get back to the construction in a second. Before Bobby died. She was an amazing lady. Before she died, she told two friends that she wants Robert to marry. They said, Yeah, we've heard you say 1000 times. No, no, I want him to marry but I want him to marry Nancy Leigh DeMoss. But she never told me that.

WS: Wow.

RW: So I knew Nancy and Bobby knew Nancy because I had represented her writing work as a literary agent for a few years. And so Bobby had met Nancy. They loved each other. They both had passwords. hymn lady. H y m n Lady. They loved old hymns. They had that in common. And, and so and Nancy had never been married. So before Bobbie died, she told two friends I want Robert to marry Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Nancy was 56. Never married. Lived in Michigan. I was 66. And married, as I said, for almost 45 years, living in Orlando, Florida. So it didn't make any sense at all for Nancy to move to Orlando. I said, No, no, you stay right there. She has her office, her studio, all of that right here. So I moved to Michigan. So back to construction. So I'm visiting Nancy in her home and she's got this deck behind her home. And it's not big, it's not big enough. That was, there are a couple of tables on it. And so I said I would love to expand this deck. So I built it out. Use composite to cover it rather than the rotting wood that was there. And, and I it was, it was a blast. In fact, I made it in the shape of a grand piano. Nancy graduated from USC with a degree in piano performance. So the deck is in the shape, I'm not kidding, of a grand piano. Anyway. So I love Lowe's and Home Depot. I went, I worked my way through college as a contractor. So anyway, so I always get permission to do this, Warren, I don't do this without permission. But I tell the guy at the counter, I'm going to cull these boards. So I pushed a cart down, you can picture it, push the card down the aisle, stop in front of the two by sixes or two by eights. I used a bunch of two by 10s on this deck. And I cull. That means I pull one off, I look down the edge. If it's crowned or warped or bent, I put it back on the on the stack. If it's straight, I put it on my cart. So alright, so I grew up with a father and with two grandfathers, and they're part of my DNA. My DNA is part of who they are. So I describe these three men. And then I say, now there are some things about their lives that I that I'm grateful for. And here's what they were. And those are straight boards. I put them on my cart. There are some things that I that I'm not crazy about. I'm not proud of. They were they were honorable man. They loved the Lord. They all three of them were preachers. I mean how can I do better than that? But there were some stuff in their lives, ways that they had, I'm just not crazy about. So I put those boards back in the stack and kept looking for straight boards. And that's the that's the whole illustration about being at this point in your life looking back and saying, Who are my models? And and what do I want to emulate from their lives? Now, it's it's interesting, one of the things I did, my favorite part of this book, was interviewing, actually my three brothers and some very close friends. And so I talked to a guy. And I said, Tell me about your father, your grant. He said, No models to follow. I'm even embarrassed to tell you about these men. But when I was a young man, I said, I have no father, no grandfather to model my life after. So I started to buy books. So my models are G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis men whose writing I claim as, as important to me. And so he said, I picked my fathers and my grandfathers. So you have no excuse. If you don't have fathers or grandfathers that you were born with, it is possible to pick mentors, pick models, pick examples of godly living. And you say, I want to be like that. It's it's actually, it's it's a challenge to avoid bad models. You don't know what to look for. You say, Well, I don't want to be like that. Well, the question is, then what do you want to be like? Anyway, so that's what my friend George did as he was growing up. So he's got an incredible library, my favorite library, well, second favorite library of every any person I've ever seen. And George will tell you about Thomas Chalmers, these guys. He loves them, he knows them. And he follows in their in their steps, just like they’re his father or his grandfather. Those are the straight boards.

WS: That's a, that's a great story about culling. You know, I've got a mentor, Robert, he says, you know, who often quotes the Bible verse, In my father's house, there were many mansions. But he then he also will add to that, of course, I'm not in favor of adding to Scripture. But he says, He will sometimes say, in my Father's house are many mansions, and in those mansions, many fathers. That, and what he means by that is that God does put, you know, men, often older men in our lives, when we are a part of the household of faith. So that, you know, we can learn from. And I that that story that you just told is a great reminder of that. I want to ask you about a particular story that you recount in your book about your own father. And as you said, sometimes you had to pick and choose what you were going to, you know adopt from your your fathers and grandfathers and what you were going to maybe leave in on the woodpile and not keep it on your cart. You talked about a driveway conversation that you had, where you, and I don't want to steal your thunder or the punch line, but you basically had to make a decision. Are you your father had to make a decision about whether you were going to?

RW: And again, I love my daddy. I won't say that again, just but you and your listeners, I want you guys to know I love my daddy. I'm grateful for my dad. My dad grew up in a Mennonite home, and his parents and his grandparents and so forth were all teetotallers. So, my younger daughter and I had bought a home, she bought the home, but I signed for it right after she graduated from college in Nashville. And she from the time Julie was a little girl, she wasn't going to rent an apartment, she was going to own a home. And so she bought this home. It was a it was a ranch, probably 1400 square feet. And, and she and I, the day that she closed, we went into that house. I actually bought a pickup truck from a friend who had a dealership. I said, I'm gonna buy this truck, I need it for six months, and I'll give it back to you. With a crowbar and level and sledgehammers and we tore that baby apart. Put it back together. So I was really proud of the work. I mean, it was beautiful. The bathroom had pink and gray tile. What were they thinking, right? Back in the 50s. We took a cast iron tub, broke it into pieces, carried it out and replaced all of that with black marble with a white pedestal sink and a and a tub. It was I was unbelievable. So my dad was in town. And I took him for a tour of this house. And I was like I said, I was proud of this house and proud of the work that Julie and I had done together. So he wasn't an expressive man anyway, but we're walking through this and I'm showing him this. And this clawfoot tub that was killer. It was cool. Sitting on black tile. I mean, just picture this. Black marble actually. And so we get back in the car, and we drove back to my house, maybe 15 minute drive. He didn't say anything. I'm thinking, Okay, we'll say something. Say, well, that was pretty cool. Well done, whatever. Didn't say anything. So we got back to the driveway. And I said, Okay, so help me understand why you're not talking. He took a deep breath. And he said, well, I guess my grandchildren drink wine. I said, Yeah, I guess they do. Because on the counter in the kitchen, was a little wine rack. And Julia and Christopher had some wine in that wine rack. So, I mean, it broke my heart, actually. And I understand my dad's position on wine. I have to confess at this, I have the same position. I do. My wife's in ministry, you get that part, I'm sure. So anyway, yep. So I said, you know, and I was 50 years old. And I'm taking a deep breath and, and mustering the courage to speak with my father. I mean, I'm a 50 year old man. Wouldn't you think that I'd have a lot of courage? No. I mean, I had great respect for my daddy and I, my heart was pounding. Like I was a youngster asking for the car for the weekend. So I said, Yeah, yeah, actually, those grandchildren enjoy wine with dinner. And as I said, matter of fact, I think all your grandchildren, who are of age, and most of your children. And he just sat there quietly. Stunned. And he knew this, because we'd had some family weddings, right? And so he knew this. I said, Dad, you're finished, you're finished with your kids, and you're finished with your grandkids. And you have a choice. You can celebrate them, or you can evaluate them, but you're not going to change them. And I tell another story in the book about him praying for us. You know, getting to my age and your age, Warren, is a huge challenge because I suspect this, it may not be true. But I love to be in control. I love to be able to get my way. I love to be able to pass out orders and expect people to follow them. When you get to this age, the only thing you can do for your children is to pray for them. It's the best thing. But it's the only thing. They're now making their own decisions. You have to trust that what you poured into them when they were small, and and malleable, has taken root, and you trust the power of the Holy Spirit, and the voice of the Holy Spirit in their lives. But you, my friend are finished. You're finished raising your kids. You really never had a chance to raise your grandkids. So don't evaluate them, celebrate them and pray like crazy that the Lord will speak to them. Nancy and I pray for a bunch of people every night by name. And that's exactly what we pray. We say, Lord, speak to their hearts by way of your Holy Spirit, convict them of sin, encourage them when they obey. But, but we don't have any control at all. Now, they may come to us for counsel or advice. And I'm all over that. But but saying, you know, honey, I think there's something I'd like to tell you. Don't even start a sent, don't even think of starting a sentence like that unless you have their permission. So that's the story I tell. That's part of the gun lap. You know, you get to your gun lap, you look over your family, and you say Lord Jesus, I don't have any control over those people. I used to. But, but now I pray that that what I taught them, the truth of your word, the power of the power of your Holy Spirit will take root in their lives. And I'm going to trust you with that. And I'm going to celebrate their lives. And that's my job in my gun lap.

WS: We live in a world where everything is age segregated. Our churches have, you know, contemporary services and traditional services. We have youth groups. We have, you know, whenever somebody is 50 years old, we you know, their retirement communities for 50 plus and 55 plus and 60 plus and so on and so forth. And it really has militated against the kind of multi generational community that I think is so important. And I think that your book really sort of celebrates as well the need for that kind of multi generational interaction. But you tell one story in particular the about the garage door opener, the curse of the garage door opener. You call it in your book. In some ways, though, that's a metaphor for just how isolated and segregated we have become. Can you can you tell that that anecdote quickly?

RW: Yeah, of course. Oh, man, this is such fun Warren. So I talked about the curse of the garage door opener. And, and your listeners may already get this. But let me let me quickly fill you in. So I lived in Nashville. And we lived in a lovely neighborhood. And the houses were, I don't know, on half acre lots. I had an electric garage door opener, all my neighbors had like garage doors, door openers. So when I pull in to my house, at the end of the day, I hit the button, I pulled into my garage. Most of the time I hit the button, even before I got out of the car. Well, on my way to my house, I passed guys, maybe mowing their yard, maybe out for a walk. I was in a hurry. I got home, I opened the garage door, I pulled in like an animal in a cave, closed the door behind me. And that's a curse. And I talk in that chapter about neighbors. And I had the opportunity. I didn't even know what a homeowner's association was, until I moved to Florida. I lived in Florida for 17 years. Into a little neighborhood, 39 homes, gated. There are 250, count them, 250 gated communities in Orange County, Florida. And so I lived in one of them. And I realized my whole life, I had lived like an electric garage door opener. I came and I went, I hardly knew my neighbors. And I tell you, you know, the Scripture talks about loving your neighbor as yourself. Jesus talks about that. And it really never dawned on me what that might look like. Well, and this is a good story about me, there are some bad stories about me. So I don't want you to think that I'm boasting. But this is a true story. When I fell in love with Nancy after I lost Bobbie to cancer in 2014, I'm driving Nancy, actually I'm walking Nancy, around our little neighborhood. It's it's a rectangle. And I knew the name of every person in every home. What the people did for a living, how many kids they had, what their kids names were. And let me tell you what that again, I'm not boasting that was just what it was. I was the president of the homeowners association. If you're a courageous person, go ahead and put your hand in the air and volunteer to be the president of a homeowner's association. It's the mission field man, I tell you it is a frontlines. It's battle. Well, the Lord gave me the joy of loving my neighbors. And the older I got, the more time I had to do that. And I tell you what, it is pure joy to love your neighbor, it is pure joy. To get out of your car, when you're driving into your neighborhood, turn it off, while turn it off, then get out of the car. And go talk to your neighbor who's washing his car, mowing his yard, or just standing on his front porch. Go love that guy. You know. And the truth is, the older you get, the harder it is to make friends. Because in your early years, your friends or your colleagues, well, early years, they're your classmates in college and graduate school and so forth, and then your co workers. But when you get older and let's say you retire from work, your pool of friend making is much much shallower. And, and you need friends. There was a book years ago called the Friendless American Man. So anyway, I don't do that anymore. And I for those years, those 18 years I lived in Orlando, I didn't do that. I knew every neighbor. I loved them. And and when they had crisis, my phone was the first to ring and it was an incredible joy. So the older I got, the more time I found that I had to love my neighbors. And I moved to a little neighborhood in Michigan. And and my sweet wife is so busy. She's on the on the radio on 1000 stations every weekday. She's a busy person. And she's in this little neighborhood. And she's she's a lovely lady, but she didn't do the neighbor thing. And I said, sweetheart, let's do the neighbor thing. And so I've had the joy of, and I could name them right now I don't need to, and I probably shouldn't on the air, but loving my neighbors. Stopping my car. Getting out of my car. Walking across the yard, greeting my, in fact, yesterday, Nancy and I went for a quick walk, it just started to rain. But we caught it before it got too bad. We passed a neighbor, who I promised didn't look at me for the first two years I lived here. When he saw he's riding on his mower, when he saw me instead of just waving, he raised both hands in the air to wave to us. And I said to Nancy, that's a 10. In my book, that's a 10. And we love this guy, we're witnessing to this guy and his wife. When Jesus said, Love your neighbor as yourself, what he meant was, take the time, literally, to love your neighbor. I put you next to that family or to that guy for a reason. And you may be the only Jesus he ever meets. Your life may be the only Bible he ever reads. Love that guy. And now that I'm 73, I have more time to do this. And so I do in my gun lap.

WS: Well, and also you've got a piano shaped deck that you can invite him over to.

RW: And we do. And we do and I talk about this too. When when our neighbors come over for dinner and it's potluck. That's the best. So everybody's got a, you know, a skin in the game, a dog in the right, in the race. So, but I say at the beginning, okay, let me just say grace. And the truth is, as far as I know, the other couples, they don't go to church at all. They have no, no Christian faith, no claim of any kind to any faith. And I pray. You're at my house, I pray. And they don't mind. In fact, now, that was the first time every time we have dinner with any of them since then, they pause before they eat dinner and they look at me and go, okay, say grace. So I mean, okay, that's not the plan of salvation. There's a lot more work to do. But that's a great start. And people welcome that. And so anyway, I talked about that in The Gun Lap. You have you have space for that, do it. Do it.

WS: Well, Robert, we're getting really close to being out of time. But I can't. I've been a big fan of many of the authors that you've represented for many, many years. And I've also been a fan of your wife, Nancy Demoss Wohlgemuth, now. And I just, I can't resist asking this is this is a grossly inappropriate question, but I ask obnoxious questions for a living, so you are gonna have to suffer one here. What's it like being married to Nancy? I mena, she is.... Yeah, I've got a book of hers that that called Brokenness. Oh, yeah. That in 1995, Nancy spoke to the Campus Crusade for Christ now called CRU staff training in Fort Collins, Colorado. That event when she spoke on brokenness, has become legendary in some circles. That a revival broke out at that meeting in front of probably in excess of 10,000, maybe close to 20,000 people that were at that meeting. And I have been fascinated with that event. Fascinated by how the Holy Spirit worked at that event. I've interviewed people that were there. Steve Douglas, who was the president of Campus Crusade at the time. And, and in fact, I've even talked to Nancy about it before. And I've read this book as well. I guess I'll say all of that Robert did say this, that, in my view, that Nancy is kind of one of these, you know, almost biblical figures when it comes to things. What's it like being married to?

RW: Well, you're asking the wrong person. Why? Because I was married for almost 45 years. And the year after I lost Bobby, I didn't lose her. I know exactly where she is. And some say that was pretty fast. And I guess it's true. It was a year that I was single. I asked Nancy to marry me and she said, Yes. So I'm the wrong person. Because getting married to Nancy was just a continuation of having been married to Bobby for 45 years. The person to ask is Nancy. I mean, okay, can you imagine 57 years single? You have your own home, your own ministry, your own circle of friends, your own ways of doing things?

Certainly comfortable with how she did life. And now she's got, like, she wrote a book while we were our first year of marriage called Adorn. She'd been working on it for 10 years. And one of the chapters opens with. ‘What in the world have I done?’ She looked over at this man sleeping next to her. She said, ‘What in the world have I done?’ So you know, I mean, it's everything from whiskers in the sink to whatever. You know, and I won't go into detail, although I do talk about some of this in the book.

WS: Well, you do. You're very vulnerable in the book. And I really respect and appreciate that. About the book. So yeah.

RW: Anyway, so. So the whole gun lap idea is, I mean, here I am. I'm a newlywed, and I still am, five and a half years into this marriage. And a part of the marriage chapter, and my brother, my oldest brother, Sam is the one who inspired me to write this chapter, about focusing on your marriage in your gun lap. You know you may have gotten sloppy with your marriage. You may have stopped paying close attention to your wife. I would take you lovingly by the shoulders and shake you gently because I don't want to hurt you. And look, you square in the eye and say, love this woman again. Go back to what it was like to fall in love with her. And this is a great time in your life, to renew your marriage vows, and re-love this woman, maybe like you never have before.

WS: Well, Robert, anything final that you want to say that I'm just not smart enough to ask about, about the book?

RW: Yeah, um, I, I would never want to make jokes about getting older. This is serious. You know, if when when you were younger, and you woke up in the morning, and you jumped out of bed and you got on with your day, you can't do that anymore. I sit on the edge of my bed and kind of gather my thoughts. It's this serious time. I was on the phone with a precious dear friend. I don't want to give too many details because I wouldn't want people to ever wonder who it is. But a very close friend for 30 years. And I hadn't heard from him. So I called him. This is just weeks ago. And I said. ‘I haven't heard from you for a while. What's going on?’ Well, he retired several weeks before this. And he said. ‘I woke up this morning and I laid there and he said I thought to myself there's no reason for me to live’. This a seminary trained brilliant man. Scholar. Loved people. People loved him. And I thought what in the world? This is serious business. You begin to lose your your strength, physical. You, you begin, your email box doesn't fill up like it used to. Your phone lays quiet. You're not invited for strategic planning meetings. Other people are running those meetings now and you're not even asked your opinion. This is a really hard time in your life. And I'm, this time I'm not going to shake you, I'm going to embrace you. And I'm going to say, take advantage of this special season in your life. Don't, don't quickly, hope for something else. Embrace this. There are things that Lord... I mean, be Caleb. Be Caleb. Take another mountain. God has something really special for you to do. So that would be my message. Don't, don't despair. Don't get frustrated, because you can't figure out your computer. I lost 30,000 words when I was working on this manuscript, because of somebody messing with my computer. And, and I lost 30,000 words. I hate technology, but I love it, you know, you, whatever. And these days, it's hard to keep up with all this stuff. So anyway, I understand this feeling of discouragement, even despair, at 73 years old. And I would grab you listeners, you men around the shoulders and say, “God still has something for you to do. Something with your name on it, and your age on it, that you couldn't maybe do before. Be encouraged. God has something really special for you.”

That brings to a close my conversation with Robert Wolgemuth. His new book is Gun Lap: Staying in the Race With Purpose.

Before we go, I want to remind you that we’re now in our 8th year of doing the kind of in-depth interview you heard today, and that means we’ve done more than 400 interviews of musicians, filmmakers, politicians, writers, culture shapers, thought leaders, and newsmakers. The best way to find them is simply to go to the World News Group website – WNG.org – and type the name of the person or topic you’re interested in into the search engine. Something good will very likely show up.

The producer for today’s program is Leigh Jones. She gets technical support from Johnny Franklin, Carl Peetz, and Kristen Flavin. Our executive producer is Nick Eicher. I’m your host Warren Smith. And you’ve been Listening In….

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