How old is too old?
That depends. If you are a ballet dancer, too old would be around 13 to start training, and you would be retired by 27 barring any injuries throughout the years. If you are an Olympic Gymnast, you have not more than two Olympics (22 yrs. old) before they take away the parallel bars; football players: it’s rare to see a guy in the NFL go past his thirties, unless, of course, he’s a kicker:). I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Most of the age limits in these sports have to do with the physical demands on a body. When these professional athletes retire at the ripe, old age of 22, they usually stay within the sport and become very sought-after trainers.
When older is a good thing
Sometimes people want you to think they are older so they can get the job. For example, I am convinced that when Bill Clinton was running for President he put gray INTO his hair to make himself look older and more dignified. People don’t want some young whipper snapper to be leading the Country. Actually, you have to be a minimum of 35 years old before inauguration day in order to qualify to run for US President. When some people wanted to see his age as a liability in his debate with Walter Mondale, Ronald Reagan gave this famous line, “I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” I absolutely LOVE that! It’s the truth. As we grow older both in years and in experience, we gain invaluable intel on this thing called life. We desperately NEED older people to lead, train, and help us avoid any pitfalls and traps that we may encounter along the way.
What’s AGE got to do with it?
I have the deepest respect for our seniors, and it saddens me to see how this society discards them so readily. Unfortunately, it’s not just the “world” that does this, it’s also the Church. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “We should let the next generation lead,” etc., etc., etc. But what does the Bible have to say about the elderly among us?
“You are to rise in the presence of the elderly and honor the old… I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:32).
“Wisdom is with aged, with long life is understanding.” (Job 12:12)
“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” (Prov. 16:31) (Notice how the gray hair is gained…not with dye!)
God is speaking: “Even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you.” (Is. 46:4)
When is old too old for God’s use?
Did you know that Daniel was 80 years old when he was thrown into the lion’s den? (Dan. 6:4-27) Did you know that Moses was 80 and Aaron was 83 when they spoke to Pharaoh and led the Israelites out of Egypt? (Exodus 7:7) Did you know that Joshua & Caleb were both in their eighties when they took the people into the promised land? (Josh. 14:6-11) Some say that the Apostle John (the disciple that Jesus loved) was in his nineties when he was given the Book of Revelation. Then there was Sarah who became a first-time mother at the age of ninety. And how about Anna? “Anna, a prophetess…and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” (Luke 2:36-37) After Anna saw Jesus dedicated, she became a preacher of the Gospel, “And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:38) I don’t have time to mention the Apostle Paul who was a prisoner for the Gospel in his sixties (Philemon 9), John the Baptist’s Mom and Dad, Elizabeth and Zacharias “…they were both advanced in years.” (Lk. 1:7), and more! I recently heard of an elderly woman who moved INTO a nursing home for the sole purpose of ministering to the people inside! She sees it as her mission field. WOW! I’m sure that was God’s idea-she just simply answered the call.
Age is just a number?
While it may be true that God will use any and every willing vessel no matter what age we are, He wants you to know that if you an elderly Christian, you are not only still valuable, but to younger Christians, you are INVALUABLE!! Please don’t quit, or retire from ministry. As we’ve seen with the many examples in the Bible, your ministry may have only just begun! If anything, we can’t make it without your leadership. We can’t be effective without your experience and teaching and WISDOM. The Church NEEDS you! You don’t need a strong, young body to do spiritual warfare. All you need is a willing heart, and the confident wisdom that has been cultivated by a long and faithful relationship with God.
I leave you with this verse that should put to rest the “old age” argument once and for all: “…[the righteous] shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing….” (Psalm 92:12-15)
As long as we have breath we can be useful to God.
I wish you a fresh and flourishing, fruit-bearing day in Jesus Name!
Denise aka Big D