Cher, the singer and actress, who was for decades a byword for eternal youth, once said that she was miserable at being over fifty. She also stated,
‘I live in Los Angeles where newer is better and older is useless.’
The world offers little hope to those living past their prime.
Few products today are designed with the elderly in mind. Everything from clothes to entertainment to advertising for consumer goods is geared towards the young. No one can underestimate the problems people face in later years. As we get older we change both physically and psychologically. Loss of faculties, loss of energy and ill health, are some of the problems relating to old age. Lifting a kettle, opening a door, posting a letter can be a burden to a frail old pensioner.
But in spite of ageism and the handicaps old age brings Christians, can still be effectual. The believer has a promise that
‘the righteous will flourish like a palm tree’, Psalm 92:2.
The tropical palm tree has a long straight trunk, long fringed leaves at the top and no branches. Interestingly the best dates are produced when the tree is from thirty to a hundred years old. We may advance in years and still be fruitful.
Caleb said that he felt as strong and vigorous at eighty-five as he did at forty. He was still claiming the unclaimed promise and aiming to complete the unfinished task.
‘I am as strong this day as I was in the day Moses sent me, as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out and come in. Now therefore give me this mountain.’
Joshua 14:11, 12 AV
There is no such thing as a superannuated Christian. Though weak in body God’s senior citizen can be strong at heart.
In 1998 I started to write an Agony Uncle column for Challenge newspaper. The local press reported the details and printed a front-page story of my testimony. Soon after I received a letter from a certain Mrs. Lily Nock,
‘Dear Brother Kevin …….hope you are able to read this as my eyes are not too good….I am eighty five….and will pray for you and all those helping you…..God Bless……’
The spirit filled octogenarian has unabated faith and enthusiasm. The frail old pensioner with declining vision is ever committed to Christ and excelling to serve the church through prayer, encouragement and letter writing. A senior citizen may be weak in flesh but strong in spirit. To be young at heart is a privilege that belongs to every Christian. The Holy Ghost who lives in us is timeless, ageless, vigorous, energetic and renews the inner person daily, 2 Corinthians 4:16
Henry Wordsworth Longfellow was one of the most popular poets of his generation. When he was well advanced in years, an admirer asked Longfellow how he managed to keep his creative edge and continue to write such beautiful poetry in old age.
Longfellow pointed his finger at a blooming apple tree nearby and said
‘the apple tree is very old but I have never seen prettier blossoms on it than those it now bears. The tree grows a little new wood every year. I suppose it’s out of that those new blossoms come. Like that apple tree,’ said Longfellow, ‘I try to grow a little new wood every year.’ What Henry Longfellow did we should do.
Is the tree of your Christian life producing fresh fruit? In old age Jacob had a new thing to do, Genesis 46:1. Colonel Sanders was seventy when he discovered Kentucky Fried Chicken. Benjamin Franklin invented bi-focal glasses at seventy-nine. Verdi wrote an opera at eighty. John Wesley went around on horseback preaching at eighty- eight. St. John was in his nineties when he wrote the book of Revelation.
You’re older than you once was, but remember,
‘The Lord blessed the later part of Job’s life more than the first.’ Job 42:12-17. Settle for nothing less than a full inheritance. Rise up third ager and claim your mountain!