One Sunday in November, we had a reception after church to recognize the members of our congregation who are over 90. There were ten of them; some were in attendance, others were not. And looking at the age of the members of our congregation makes us say quite often, "Nothing but old people; how long can we go on this way?" It is indeed a problem, but also a blessing.
Sometimes, older people, even though they are able to participate, will give up. Barzillai was one of them. He had been a servant to King David, and he was asked to join the king in Jerusalem, but this is what he said:
2 Samuel 19:34-35 – How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? I am today eighty years old. Can I discern between the good and bad? Can your servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear any longer the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be a further burden to my lord the king? (NKJV)
One time, we attended a church while on a trip. It was Mother's Day, and there were about two hundred people at worship. The minister asked all the mothers over 70 to stand up. There was one. I thought, This is great! A whole church full of young people! And then it dawned on me that there was something wrong. Perhaps the older people did not feel at home there, and they went elsewhere.
Sometimes, people of advanced years are discouraged by the younger generation. But there are exceptions. When I worked on a big pipeline project in the Middle East many years ago, we needed a considerable number of pipeline inspectors to make sure that the project was built according to our specifications. We had a number of retired men who did this work for us. Most of them had worked for a major oil company and were retired at an earlier age. They loved their work; they knew what they were doing; their children were grown; they loved to travel; and they were very experienced. One time, we had a welding inspector who was 73. They were great people, all of them.
We should thank the Lord for all the old people in the church, who, when they and we were young, taught us the fundamentals of our faith. Oh, I'm sure some of us thought it was pretty boring at the time, but oh! the things they taught us. We should thank the Lord for all the old people in our churches today, for all the work they do. It is impossible to single them all out; none of us has any idea how much work they do.
Certainly, we want young, hard-working Christians to join us; we want babies in the nurseries and the Sunday School bursting at the seams; but we also need old people; we want their experience, their wisdom, their knowledge, their love, their patience; we want their enthusiasm and their good humour. The church needs us, and we need the church.
Psalm 71:18 – Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come. (NKJV)
We know that God never forsakes us, regardless of our age. We all can do God's work, each one of us in our own way.
Old age, bonus or burden? … Bonus, definitely!
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we pray that we older people can still be used to bring Your Word to those around us. We pray for strength and the desire to keep doing Your work. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "From Ocean Unto Ocean" (Lyrics)