Many of you know that Eileen and I got caught in the recent East Coast snowstorm. Once we resigned ourselves to the fact that we would not be getting home in time for Sunday’s services, we decided to visit some of the “senior saints” who were part of the first congregation that I pastored (1989 – 1998) in Raleigh, North Carolina. When I think back to those visits of just a few days ago, here’s my summary: “What a joy!”
Here’s a pic of our dear friend, Victoria Stevens. At age 90, Vickie is still the Southern Belle par excellence. Now widowed and living alone, she still has her sense of humor, her poise, or her gracefulness. Most important: she still has her Savior. Said more correctly, He still has her. (Vickie told me I’m getting a little too “chubby.” #truthbomb)
Please let me clarify what I mean by that word “joy.” By “joy” I do not mean “happy and carefree.” By “joy” I do not mean “nonstop giddy laughter.” By “joy” I do not mean “easy peasy lemon squeezy.”
By “joy” I mean that I would not have wanted to be anywhere else on Earth! But, in fact, the visits were not easy. Many of the pillars of that church – the church family that loved me through the “teenage years” of my pastoral ministry – are now diving head-first into the harshest realities of aging. This was not easy for me to accept or admit. And certainly not easy for me to observe. (Some of you know that, when it comes to tears, I’m planted fairly close to the stream.)
Forgetfulness. Falls. Estrangement from family and friends. Problems with vision and hearing. Aches and pains. Sadness and loneliness. Loss of personal freedom and autonomy. Who’s ever in the mood to give up driving? No way.
Yes, their faith in Christ remains strong, but that doesn’t erase all of the ugliness of the conditions and situations this side of heaven. Sometimes I was tempted to ask, “Why, Lord, why?”
Grab your Bible and open to Psalm 71. As you read from God’s songbook, keep in mind that we really don’t know, in the case of this particular psalm – with absolute certainty, at least – the identity of the human writer. My best guess is David, and that he wrote it when Absalom rebelled. The harp and lyre sound like David to me, and there are other clues in my opinion. If my assumption is correct, David would have been in his early 60’s at the time – which was considered very old back then.
But regardless of the human writer, the ultimate Author is certain. God wrote this psalm for us. As you read it, and meditate on it, here are some thoughts for your pondering:
- If I am going to delight in God when I am old, then I better get to know him well while I am young, and still able to hide His word in my heart. Since some of my abilities will dull as I age, now is the time to fortify my soul with spiritual truth.
- If I am going to trust God when I am old – when I am standing on the brink of eternity – then I better not forget all of the trials through which He has safely steered me. I should write down my victories now, and tell as many people as I can. Maybe at least one of them will remember to remind me of God’s faithfulness TO ME when I need it most.
- If I am going to praise God in the midst of the storms of my old age, then I better practice praising Him now. Today can be a foretaste of heaven, so I don’t want to miss it for the temporal lures of this world.
Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come … for you, O Lord are my hope … my praise is continually of you … forsake me not when my strength is spent … and I will praise you yet more and more!
Christ is our refuge … when we are young, and when we are old, and every moment in between. He is our hope today, and forever.