Pastor Ron E. Thompson: Thoughts About Old Age
Years ago, I had the joy and honor to be a part of a celebration for a sweet Christian lady who had reached her 100th birthday. That lady was my wife’s grandmother. Our family saw Grandma as youthful. She shared with everyone various personal secrets of her long life. I added some thoughts. In that beautiful Psalm 91, a favorite about God’s protective hand over His own, author David wrote: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1 NKJV).
He goes on to say how God had been his fortress and refuge down through the years, protecting him, answering his cries for help, and conquering his fears. David closes his Psalm with these words from God Himself, the speaker: “With a long life I will satisfy him, and I will let him see My salvation” (Psalm 91:16 AMP). I also read Proverbs 16:31 AMP: “The silver-haired head is a crown of splendor and glory; It is found in the way of righteousness.”
The Hebrews believed longevity of life was a sign of God’s blessing. I assured Grandma that God had been so good and gracious to her because she had known and trusted Him over the years. And who knows what the Lord may allow her to accomplish in the remaining years He grants her? Actually, Grandma lived to be within months of 105 years.
Have you ever heard of Mary Robertson? She was born in 1860. Mary enjoyed her craft of needlepoint until her late 70’s when arthritis prevented her from continuing. Mary started painting as a self-taught artist. She was later discovered and today we know her as Grandma Moses. Then there was a man in Venice, Italy back in the 15th century who lived to be 116. He survived five marriages, fathered forty-nine children, never suffered from a day’s illness in his life, and his eyesight, memory, and hearing were good until he died. He took a daily walk of eight miles. His hair turned black at age one hundred. He was appointed to a public office at 115, and at the age of 116 two new teeth erupted in his mouth! Consider two of history’s senior citizens who did not really get into action until the later years of life. Moses was eighty when God called him John Wesley was preaching twice a day at age 86. Below are thoughts I gathered about aging, hoping they will be helpful to you.
- You are as young as your faith. Here are wise words from General Douglas MacArthur: “You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubts, as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear, as young as your hope, as old as your despair. In the central place of your heart there is a wireless station. So long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage, grandeur…and power from the Infinite, just so long, and no longer, are you young. When the wires are all down, and your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then, and then only, are you old.” As we face the prospects of growing old, we must consider what we should be doing now to prepare for old age. The truth is you will be then what you are becoming now. If you are not becoming a person of faith now, you will not be a person of faith then. If you are a negative, grumpy person now, you will not be a positive, cheerful person then. If you are not walking with the Lord now, you will not likely be walking with Him then.
- Grow old with God in mind. Dr. J. Vernon McGee says that Isaiah 46:1- 4 ERV contains one of the greatest mockeries against idolatry found in Scripture. Jehovah ridicules the idols that are lifeless, helpless, and require human assistance. In contrast, God tells the family of Jacob: “You who are left from the family of Israel, listen! I have carried you since you left your mother’s womb. I carried you when you were born,and I will still be carrying you when you are old. Your hair will turn gray, and I will still carry you. I made you, and I will carry you to safety.”
As we grow older, our relationship to God should grow stronger when we realize the brevity of earthly things. We need complete dependence upon God. Here are practical thoughts for older Christians: First, older men can teach, become an elder, and women can tutor the young women; Second, older Christians have wisdom that younger believers need; Third, senior Christians can visit, write cards/letters of encouragement, and assist in the church office; Fourth, older Christians often have more time and wealth to dedicate to the Lord; Fifth, make a study of Titus 2:1-5.
Steve Mathewson, senior pastor of CrossLife Evangelical Free Church in Libertyville, Illinois has this counsel for his youth: “Young people need to do three things: First, get to know the older people in your congregation. Invite them to your home; take time to visit with them before you leave church on Sunday. Second, encourage and affirm the older Christians. They may be lonely; others may feel like they do not have anything to contribute. Let them know how important they are. Third, realize that you are going to get old someday. Determine that Titus 2:1–5 describes the older woman or man you want to become.”
Beloved, you must have something to look forward to—a purpose or a responsibility. You are never too old to have goals. You are never too old to contribute. Seniors, you are the future of the Church. Your role is to model what God wants the next generation of Christians to become.