Never stop doing what God put you on Earth to do, whether a senior or a beginner.
And as for the seniors among us, this is certainly no time to slack off. It's just getting good.
I'll be speaking to the senior adults in a Mississippi church this weekend. The person making this schedule definitely had seniors in mind. The meal—I'm not sure whether it's lunch, dinner or supper—is set for 4 p.m., after which our worship service is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Now, they didn't say, but I guarantee someone figured we would all be home and in bed by 6:30!
My parents married on a Saturday in 1934. Dad spent the day getting the marriage license. He rode the train to the county seat, negotiated the courthouse business, and caught the train back. That took most of the day. Then, he had to walk five miles to the farmhouse. The problem is, four inches of rain had fallen the day before, and the unpaved road was a nightmare on foot. After a mile or so, Dad stopped at a neighbor's house and enlisted him to crank his car and drive the wedding party. Meanwhile, at the farmhouse, Mom and her family had given up on Dad getting there. They had gotten out of their wedding clothes and gone to bed. I asked her, "What time was that?" She said, "Oh, it was late. It must have been 7 o'clock." But when the headlights appeared in the distance, they all jumped up and dressed. Soon, they were waking up the preacher at 8 p.m. to marry them.
That was a different day and time.
This week, I'll be in Springfield, Missouri, for the graduation of our youngest granddaughter. Because they have so many schools, this service begins at 9 p.m. It definitely was not scheduled with senior adults in mind! (I'm thinking of going in my pajamas!)
Anyway. It's always good to be in Mississippi, and wonderful to be in Missouri with my family.
To senior adults, I say:
I've driven up from New Orleans to congratulate you on the two biggest blessings in your life. One, you are saved. Born again. Your name is written in the Book of Life. You are going to heaven.
And two, you're old.
Now, you don't think of getting old as a blessing, but it is. We all have had friends who would have given everything they own to have lived as long as we have, to have seen their kids grow up and get married, to have held their grandbabies in their arms. Some of us have even had the privilege of watching our grandchildren grow into young adulthood.
We are so blessed.
I have a few Scriptures for you, which you may want to jot down. We'll start with Revelation 2:10; Galatians 6:9 and Psalm 92:14-15.
Question: Exactly how old is old? When do we become seniors?
My mother gave birth to her children within a nine-year spread. It was hard on her but great for us. I recall once saying to her, "All your children are in their 40s. Does it make you feel old?"
She said, "No. It's not my problem."
In her last year of life, Mom was not retaining some things mentally. One day she said, "I don't even know how old I am." I said, "Mom, you're 95." She said, "Lord, have mercy." I said, "He has had mercy. That's why you're still with us at 95."
I hear people say, "There's no retirement in Scripture." Actually, there is. Numbers 8:25 says the Jewish priests retired from active duty at the age of 50. Thereafter, they could volunteer to assist if they chose, but this was a young man's profession, manhandling all those animals for sacrifice, that sort of thing.
Even so, there is no retirement from serving the Lord. We are never to slow down or slack off.
And so, to you who have served the Lord through the years, I have this word: Don't stop now.
This is no time to slow down or ease off.
After all ...
- You are doing your best work right now. It's just now getting good.
- God is using you in ways you cannot imagine. Whether you see what He is doing or not makes no difference. After all, you are not the judge of your own work. None of us are.
- People are watching you to see how you are handling the challenge of seniority. Your influence is phenomenal.
- You're almost home now. You can see the house from here. Just a little longer.
I've heard that tightrope walkers are at their most precarious in those final one or two steps. They've walked across the arena high above the crowd, they've risked their lives and now they're done. Almost. Just another step or two. What they must not do is let down their guard and relax too soon. To do that can be fatal.
"Therefore, since we have received this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart [and quit]," says the great apostle in 2 Corinthians 4:1. He looks back and sees two overwhelming reasons to stay faithful: God's mercy upon us and His calling for us. He has been so good to us; He has given us work to do for Him—mercy and ministry.
Then, same chapter, the Lord gives us the other side of the coin. "For this reason we do not lose heart [and quit]: Even though our outward man is perishing, yet our inward man is being renewed day by day. Our light affliction, which lasts but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. 4:16-17). This time, Paul looks into the future and gives us two more great reasons for not quitting: God is making us into the image of Christ here in this life, and His great rewards are just ahead. Growth and glory.
That's why we say, Don't quit! You're almost home now. You're doing your best work right now. It's going well. People coming behind are watching to see how to handle the challenge of these last decades.
When you get to heaven, you will find just how precious was your service for the Lord. You will see what you have achieved. And you will be so grateful you were faithful.
"When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8) Let's determine that at least two people–you and I–will be able to answer in the affirmative.
And a word to the rest of us ...
Finally, I want to say a word to seniors who are away from God, who have not yet given your hearts to Jesus and begun living for Him: What are you waiting for?
Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your heart. Now, is the accepted time. Today is the day of salvation.
Some will say, "I'm too far gone; there's no hope for me." While others will say, "I'm going to do it ... one of these days."
Let me tell you a story.
A preacher told how when he was little, his mother taught him piano. Once in a recital, he was out on stage playing his little piece when he froze up. His mind went blank and he could not recall a thing. He had to get up and walk off the stage in complete humiliation. Later, he said, his mother gave him some great advice.
"Honey, any time you mess up in the middle, always end with a flourish. If you end with a flourish, no one will remember what you did in the middle."
Some of you may have messed up in the middle of your life. But my friend, it's still possible to end with a flourish—to get this right.
But you have to start now. "Today is the day," Scripture says. Will you do it? Will you invite Jesus Christ into your life today and let Him start a new thing in you?
You will never be any younger than you are. You will never be able to go back and start over. You cannot undo what you have done. But you can begin today to get this right and end with a flourish.
"Be thou faithful unto death," Jesus said. "And I will give you a crown of life."
After five years as director of missions for the 100 Southern Baptist churches of metro New Orleans, Joe McKeever retired on June 1, 2009. These days, he has an office at the First Baptist Church of Kenner, where he's working on three books, and he's trying to accept every speaking/preaching invitation that comes his way.
For the original article, visit joemckeever.com.
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