One of the greatest pleasures that I have in the ministry is to glean from the wisdom of those who have been “at” it longer than I have. The wisdom of those who were saved as children or teens then spent the rest of their lives serving the Lord is simply priceless.
While Nathan was in college, one of those seasoned saints passed away. I did not have the pleasure of meeting or knowing him, but our then 21 year old son did. As I listened to Nathan tell me about this man of God and his impact on Nathan’s life, I could not help but cry tears of gratitude. What a blessing to have such an impact on his young life! The man was known as a prayer warrior. Nathan had told him about our ministry. “Mom, I didn’t tell you and Dad about that, but for the last year he’s been praying for you both and the ministry.” “When you look at him you can almost see the presence of God around him.” “He’s the type of Christian you’d call a ‘faithful servant’.” What a testimony that was noticed by a young person!
This man finished strong.
Even though I’ve never met him, he has influenced my life. I want to live my life in such a way that I finish strong. I want to have the impact in my old age on young people that this man had. I don’t want to “retire” from ministry or service to my Lord.
Psalm 71:9, Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.
All too often though many seasoned saints “retire” from Sunday school teaching or singing in the choir or helping around the church or any number of other ministry areas. Yes, strength and stamina wane as we age, but that is when we need to work smarter, not harder. Find someone younger who has the energy then train and direct that energy. Eventually you will have trained your replacement, allowing you to move on to train someone else.
Job 12:12, With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.
Psalm 71:18, Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.
Mentoring the next generation is a great need today. I’m not only talking about children and teens. Many couples and families are struggling today. The world philosophy has so inundated their thought processes that they have difficulty rightly discerning truth found in God’s Word. Sometimes it helps if someone who has walked in their shoes offers to help them through their journey; to show them that following biblical principles really does work; that God will be there for them even in what seems like their darkest hour. No, not everyone is going to want you interfering in his or her lives. However, if the Lord opens the door for you to encourage an individual, a couple or family, take the opportunity.
Psalm 92:13-15, Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; 15 To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
Have you ever wondered why some older people are “crotchety” and some are simply sweet? It all depends where they are planted. Some of the sweetest people I know are those who have spent their lives serving the Lord… and continue to do so even in their old age. As long as there is breath, you can still bring forth fruit to the Lord.
Isaiah 46:4, And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.
What an encouragement that the Lord will continue to deliver us in our old age. Remember, God never changes. He is there for us in our old age as He was in our younger years. And, oh, what a thought that when we think (and maybe feel) that we can go on no longer, He carries us.
We have no excuse or reason for “retiring” from the service of the Lord. Right now, I am thinking of an older pastor whose body simply is failing. He is in and out of the hospital practically weekly. Although he acknowledges discouragement for his physical condition, he looks for those “divine appointments” of ministry wherever he is – hospital, dialysis, doctor’s office waiting rooms. He knows that God has placed him in this task to reach those who may not be reached any other way. It is for us to be faithful to His work until He comes again or calls us home… regardless of our age or our physical condition.
2 Timothy 4:6-7, For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
As Nathan talked to me about the last few days of this man’s life, he said it was if the man knew his time on earth was done. He went into surgery knowing it was risky, but content that either way the surgery went, he was going to be fine. He awoke in Glory! Oh, to fight a good fight and finish what the Lord would have me to do. To hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Stay strong. Finish strong.