Staying Young

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Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.

Ps. 92:14 NLT

“It’s not the loss of energy or health that makes you old; it’s the loss of vision. Without it you can be old at thirty. With it, you can still be young at ninety.”[1]

It’s fascinating to reflect upon the position that I find myself in at the moment. Who could have thought that a man could begin a new ministry for God in his late sixties? Now at age seventy I no longer joke about Moses being eighty years old when he received his call from God.

When I was a young man with a very young family, I was told by my doctor that my asthma was so severe that I would not live to celebrate my thirty-fifth birthday, and yet here I am. Somehow by the grace of God I made it past that milestone and have in fact doubled it. I am a grandfather and a great grandfather. My whole life has seen a series of major career and life changes, and I can see the hand of the Lord in them as I look back. In every one of them, I gained experience and skills, from finance to farming, from takeaway cook to caravan park proprietor. From humble clerk to company director, from artist, and musician to computer geek, from Sunday school teacher to Pastor.

What is amazing, and shouldn’t really be, is that since my appointment as Pastor I have had to draw on much of that lifetime of seemingly random experiences to help guide our church family through one of the greatest crises the global church has faced in living memory. At every step I have been conscious of the Lord’s hand leading and guiding us through the seemingly endless labyrinth of problems that we faced with a gentle, come on Peter we have been here before, you know what you have to do. I’m not sure if that is called vision, or hindsight. Either way, I am grateful for the Lord giving me the opportunity to use this crazy set of skills for His Glory.

So, that’s my story. Now, what does the Bible say about getting old, or should I more properly say, staying young as we age? Moses actually writes respect for the elderly into Jewish law. As I looked at this, I wondered why it said ‘old man’ and did not include the old women. I realised, thinking back on all the middle eastern families I know, that it was, and is, a given that Nonna be respected, she ruled the household, and no one would disrespect Nonna: –

Leviticus 19:32 (NKJV)

3‘You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord.

The Psalmist prays that he will be allowed to live long enough to pass on his faith to the next generation.

Psalm 71:17–18 (NKJV)

17     O God, You have taught me from my youth;

And to this day I declare Your wondrous works.

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.

During this Covid crisis, Psalm 91 has been a source of comfort and encouragement to us and to many others around the world. As senior citizens we are in the most at ‘risk category’ and yet we have the promise of scripture to deliver us in our time of trouble. The psalm ends with this triumphant declaration for long life, from the very heart of God for His people: –

Psalm 91:14–16 (NKJV)

14     “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him on high, because he has known My name.

15     He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will deliver him and honor him.

16     With long life I will satisfy him,

And show him My salvation.”

On the whole, aging in the bible is seen in a positive light. There is a place for everyone in the kingdom and age is no barrier to an effective and fruitful life. We all have our roles in the kingdom, and there are no retirement plans for believers. If you are unable to get out and about safely you can pray. We have a number of young people and their families who are doing it really hard as a result of a very difficult family history. These people have tasted the only love and acceptance that they have ever known since they became part of our church family. Love and acceptance are things that anyone can give to those who are struggling. They need our unconditional support in good times and bad, and this is something that we can all participate in.

I have a sense, that at some point in the covid crisis we turned a corner. That we could clearly see a way through. A way that united us and supported us even though we were separated. Now as we prepare to come together, we can sense a heightened awareness of the Holy Spirit and we pray for a fresh infilling as we face the next chapter in the life of our church together.

Joel 2:28–29 (NKJV)

28     “And it shall come to pass afterward

That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;

Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

Your old men shall dream dreams,

Your young men shall see visions.

29     And also on My menservants and on My maidservants

I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

Lastly, the scripture that I turn to for personal encouragement, for I too have my dark days. I too sometimes feel discouraged. It is in these times that the scriptures comfort and empower me. Feed on them and feel the strength come back into your body. Feel the words feeding your spirit. Then rise up and take back what the enemy has tried to steal from you, whether it is your peace or your will to go on. Read it to yourself out loud and see what it does for you. Repeat it over and over until the words become a part of who you are:-

Isaiah 40:28–31 (NKJV)

28     Have you not known?

Have you not heard?

The everlasting God, the Lord,

The Creator of the ends of the earth,

Neither faints nor is weary.

His understanding is unsearchable.

29     He gives power to the weak,

And to those who have no might He increases strength.

30     Even the youths shall faint and be weary,

And the young men shall utterly fall,

31     But those who wait on the Lord

Shall renew their strength;

They shall mount up with wings like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary,

They shall walk and not faint.

It would be wonderful as we begin to have services again in the church, to hear the testimonies of how God has had victory in the lives of our church family all through the worst days of the crisis. I am so looking forward to us being together again in person rather than online.

The last word from Bob Gass

Unless you are cheese or wine, age simply doesn’t matter. David said, “But the godly shall flourish like palm trees” (Psalms 92:12, TLB).[2]

Did you know that a palm tree produces its biggest harvest of fruit in its last years? Rejoice, that’s you He’s talking about![3]

[1] Bob Gass, A Fresh Word For Today : 365 Insights For Daily Living (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998), 195.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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