As I approach another birthday, I find that each year that passes finds me a little more conflicted about the aging process. I’m thankful to have made it another year. Many of my friends and family members were not blessed with a long life. Yet, each year seems to bring something that I wasn’t quite prepared for – reading glasses, that first colonoscopy, more wrinkles and dreaded gray hairs. Sometimes I don’t feel any older than when I was in my twenties. Other times, I feel like there must be centenarians who have more energy and stamina than I do at half their age. As I contemplate what lies ahead, I’m reminded that the Bible is full of wise, older people, whom God did not cast off, but engaged in useful purposes.
Moses and Aaron were no spring chickens when God asked them to help lead the Israelites out of slavery. However, it was Joshua, in the later years of his life, who led them into the promised land of Canaan. Zechariah and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist (who announced the arrival of the Messiah), were thought to be far too old to become parents, but God thought otherwise. God used Simeon and Anna, advanced in age, to bear witness to the Christ child.
We are never too old (or too young) to faithfully point others to our Lord. We are never too old (or too young) to harness the power of prayer for God’s people. Of course, everyone who has ever been a part of a church community probably knows that churches simply couldn’t operate without the volunteer hours and commitments of our retired members and friends, who give selflessly and generously, so that others might see God at work.
The promise of Isaiah 46:4 is one that we can cling to as we age, “Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he; I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” The accumulated wisdom of age is also recognized in the Bible, such as in this verse from Job 12:12, “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long-life bring understanding?”
So, fear not, God is not through with us yet! If we are open to the call of God, our faithful Lord will find a way to use us to minister to those among us, to spread the word of his greatness, and to share our accumulated wisdom with the generations to come. When that next birthday comes around, celebrate it; and celebrate our God who uses people of all ages in wonderful ways!