Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life. [Proverbs 16:31 (NLT)]
One of the reasons I like living in southwest Florida is that it makes me feel young! Well, not exactly young but at least not as old. There’s always someone around who is older than me! For example, when giving me her email address, my church friend said the “51” in it was for the year she was married. I didn’t give it much thought until I entered her address and realized she must be around eighty-five. As active and alert that she is, that didn’t seem possible. When I asked if I’d understood correctly, she was proud to claim her eighty-five years! Here in the land of seniors, there’s always someone my senior to inspire me.
Most of us Florida “gray hairs” are officially retired. God, however, doesn’t have a retirement clause in His contract with us. Way older than any of us, He’s not sitting idly back on His heavenly throne taking a well-deserved rest. Moreover, He doesn’t put us out to pasture just because we’re collecting Social Security. Zechariah and Elizabeth, for example, were both over sixty and long past child-rearing days when God blessed them with a baby. Just babysitting my grands for a day is exhausting; raising an infant couldn’t have been easy for them. Yet, I know several people my age and older who, for a variety of reasons, have had to assume the role of parent for their grands and even their great-grands. At a time in their lives when they expected to sit back and relax, they are dealing with everything from diapers to teen-aged angst, carpooling to algebra, and science projects to play dates. Their blessings have come with a great many challenges but, like Zechariah and Elizabeth, they are doing the job God set before them.
Joshua was an active forty year old when he originally explored the land of Canaan. He was eighty (and, quite likely, not nearly as spry) when he led the Israelites in their conquest of that same land. While they’re not marching around Jericho in full battle armor, most of the men who set up (and take down) the many tables and 500 plus chairs at our Florida church every Sunday are gray-haired gentlemen of an age where many would prefer sitting in a recliner to carting loads of chairs around a park. Yet, they faithfully do the task God has given them.
Moses was eighty and Aaron eighty-three when given the task of speaking to Pharaoh. For forty more years, Moses led the Israelites to the Promised Land while Aaron served as his second in command. Age didn’t stop Moses and it certainly shouldn’t stop any of us from leading others to God’s Promised Land. Legendary evangelist Billy Graham, at ninety-seven, is still guiding people to Christ. While his physical limitations keep him from preaching, his writing is still an inspiration to us all; he published his 33rd book last fall. Charles Stanley, of In Touch Ministries, is eighty-three, radio preacher and author Chuck Swindoll is eighty-one, Pope Francis is travelling the world for God at seventy-nine, and evangelist Franklin Graham, CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, is a youngster at sixty-seven.
Clearly, God doesn’t stop assigning work just because we’ve reached a certain age. He continues to have tasks for these famed older Christians and He still has assignments for you and me. Granted, physical infirmities may keep us from some jobs, but they’re no excuse for not serving Him. There is much we have to offer our church and community, with experience and time being our most valuable assets.
In spite of what the media would have us believe, it is not a sin to grow old. There’s nothing shameful about wrinkles, arthritis, artificial hips, age spots, gray hair, double chins, hearing aids, walkers, or sagging body parts. The sin is not in old age; it is in not making the most of the years with which God has blessed us. Lord, may we continue to flourish and bear fruit until the day you take us home.
When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, “I used everything you gave me.” [Erma Bombeck]
But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. [Psalm 92:12-14 (NLT)]
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! [2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NLT)]