by Dr. Dan Taylor, Minister of Senior Adults, First Baptist Church, Simpsonville, SC
The ability to serve God and express our faith is often tempered by physical limitations we may have. While I used to derive great enjoyment out of working on high scaffolding helping to repair an old church (or build a new one) or running with the teen-agers on a youth program or retreat, there does come a time when much of that is better left to the young and the strong! But the need to serve and express our faith isn’t limited. That is ingrained within us and can be viable long past the time when our bodies are capable of more strenuous exploits.
When God called Moses to take the lead in guiding His people out of Egypt, Moses offered a number of excuses why this was not a good idea: he couldn’t speak well, the people would not listen to him, or maybe there was someone else more suited. Actually, I think he just didn’t want to do this job. If you look closely, however, Moses did not use his age as an excuse – and he was around 80 years old at that time! God knew very well not every 80 year old could do this task, but He knew this one could!
Psalm 71 could very well be called the “Psalm of the Aged.” The poet makes a number of references to growing old. One of the verses voices a prayer, “God, don’t forsake me when I am old until I can declare your strength to this (new) generation.” Those of us who are seniors have a unique mission to accomplish – declaring the goodness of God to a new generation. We might call this ‘our spiritual legacy.’ In a broader perspective, this is simply the mission that God has entrusted to His people since the beginning. We have the privilege to share the mercy, grace, and love of God to the generation in which we live, but we also have the opportunity to pass that mission along to those who come after us. Sometimes we can accomplish the mission through acts of physical labor. As we advance in age, more likely we will do this through smaller acts of mercy, kindness, and service. Some, due to more serious limitations, will find a place to serve in praying, or in encouraging others through calls and cards. We are never too old to show the love and grace of God even when our body may be confined to a wheel chair or a bed. We can make a difference, a spiritual legacy, at any age.
For those who work with seniors as part of your business or ministry, please remember that the need to actively demonstrate love and faith never goes away. A person’s soul needs to be fed and exercised and sometimes released from pain, as much or more than the physical body. So many of you do a wonderful job recognizing that in your work. If you sense a spiritual need, address it. Call for additional help if you are uncomfortable handling it on your own. Ignoring spiritual concerns should never be an option.
I have heard it said that much of our aging population feels the need to insure they create a legacy to leave behind. This is particularly true of the ‘greatest generation’ and the early baby-boomers. When some of the accomplishments of their more productive years seem not as significant as they used to be, helping them secure a more lasting legacy relating to faith and eternal issues becomes more crucial. For many of our seniors, the need to satisfy that “God-sized hole” in their heart becomes more important as they slow down physically. The soul is eternal. Age doesn’t have anything to do with it at all.