How have you been? Good, bad

Published 6:53 am Thursday, July 15, 2021

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By MICHAEL J. BROOKS / Guest Columnist

I met him in an unusual place in 1995.

Chuc was president of the Gerald R. Ford Political Items Collectors, a subsidiary of the American Political Items Collectors ( He advertised in our hobby newspaper about a breakfast with President Ford at his Grand Rapids library. I responded with my interest, and Chuc called me from his home in Michigan.

“I see you’re a pastor,” he said. “Can you have the invocation at our breakfast?”

I convinced the church this was a ministry, and I should use my travel expense for the trip! And it was a great trip. The president was very gracious. A member showed him an auction catalogue and Ford remarked that he couldn’t believe collectors would pay such sums for items with his name and image. Before we dismissed Ford offered to take pictures with everyone.

I met Chuc at the event and didn’t see him until about 20 years later at another hobby gathering.

“Hey, Mike,” he said, “how have you been?”

Maybe this is something Michiganders ask in greeting like we Southerners ask, according to Jeff Foxworthy, “How’s your momma?”

I thought about this lately when I saw “Airplane II” on late night TV. McCroskey (Lloyd Bridges) said he wanted to know everything that had happened until now. So Johnny responded, “First the earth cooled, and then the dinosaurs came. But they got too big and fat, so they all died and turned into oil…”

In other words, a lot has happened!

I could honestly say that those 20 years were filled with good things and bad. People I love got sick and died. Friends lost jobs and marriages. Politicians we trusted let us down. Churches had big fights and lost their witness.

But many good things happened, too. Our daughter married and is a wonderful mother with three good boys. We now live only 14 miles away. As one of our church members jokingly told her son, “We were stuck with you, but we love our grandchildren!” I got to work in Christian higher education for 15 years and served two great churches during the time. And now we serve a great church in the city of my birth, who seem content to let an old guy steer the ship for a while longer.

So, how have I been? I’ve been good and I’ve been bad. And I venture to say every reader has been good and bad, too.

Through it all we can affirm God has been faithful. We echo the declaration of the psalmist: “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalm 37:5).

Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church’s website is