Well, here it is. Again. Another birthday.
Remember when you were a kid and they couldn’t come fast enough? Oh, to be a teenager and turn 13. And then the magical age of 16 to get your driver’s licence. And, then 18, with graduation looming, and college plans on the horizon. And, of course, finally feeling like an adult at 21.
But somewhere along the way, the birthdays seem to come quicker. There are the milestone birthdays. 30. 40. 50. 60. There are jokes about age. Surprise parties take a ghoulish theme with the room decorated in black. And suddenly you realize the years have turned into decades of living.
Last year was one of those milestone birthdays when I turned 70. After a year I ought to be used to it. I’m on Medicare. I’m finally drawing social security. I’m older. Somehow I still can’t say, “I’m old.” I don’t feel it.
For many, it is time to slow down, relax, and enjoy retirement. Many folks spent their lives working, planning, investing and saving for a day they can quit their jobs. Enjoy some leisure activity. And pursue some personal interest or hobby.
For the Christian, however, I don’t read about “retirement” from spiritual activity and serving the Lord. In fact, I am learning that it can be an occasion to pursue some new and exciting ways to minister and to make a difference.
This morning as I reflect on being another year older, I’m reminded of this wonderful passage from the Psalmist about how the righteous approach old age.
The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,
He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Those who are planted in the house of the Lord
Shall flourish in the courts of our God.
They shall still bear fruit in old age;
They shall be fresh and flourishing,
To declare that the Lord is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
Last year Norma Jean and I visited several cities in Italy. Some of the vineyards boasted of grapes vines over 100 years old and they were still producing. More astonishing are olive trees over 1000 years old. Some are said to be 3,000 to 4,000 years old. And still producing.
Yes, life changes as we get older. Mentally and physically. And the reflection looking back at us in the mirror is not the same as that once youthful and vigorous 20 year old we once were. However, we can still find our place in the service of the Lord. Our niche’. Our calling. And our unique role in ministry.
The Bible speaks of several servants of God accomplishing great things in old age. Moses and Aaron were 80 and 83 when they led Israel out of Egypt. Joshua was close to 80 when he conquered Canaan. And Caleb was 83 when he enthusiastically claimed his inheritance in Canaan and exclaimed, “Give me this mountain.”
While we have stepped back from located work with one congregation at this time, we are not retiring from preaching. Not yet. The past two Sunday’s we spoke in Costa Rica. This Sunday we are in Goose Creek, South Carolina. Followed by preaching appointments in North Carolina. Cosby and Nashville, Tennessee. A month working with the church at Madrid, Iowa. And then the summer preaching and teaching in Ontario, Canada.
Like the palm tree and the cedars of Lebanon, firmly rooted in the soil of righteousness and God’s grace, we are still standing. Hopefully flourishing. Bearing some fruit. And being productive.
“Thank you, Lord, for another year. For Good health. Many friends. Supportive brethren. A good family. A loving wife. Multiple opportunities. And blessings too numerous to count.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman