“Stay fresh and Green…”(Psalm 92)

 

 

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It sneaked up on me unawares.

I suddenly looked around and noticed that I had grandchildren. And -astonishing as this may appear to you- at the very same time I discovered a need for extra naps and shorter walks.

And if that’s your story too, take heart. The Bible says:

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The LORD is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” ” 
(Psalm 92:12-15)

So this morning I want to stake my claim to “still bear fruit” and to stay “fresh and green.

But how do I do that? What does it entail? What does the Lord require of me?

Two things: First, keep your vision. Second, tell your story.

1.Stay fresh and green by keeping your vision intact.

Caleb is a powerful reminder of someone who does just that.

In Joshua 14, as Israel finally makes it into the Promises Land, Caleb recalls the vision of something promised decades before. He says to his friend Joshua:

“Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

The point is, we are to stay resolutely ambitious. Caleb never stopped growing. He did not allow the passing years to grind him down. Instead of showing a gradual eclipse, the passing years only increased his stature and enhanced his prestige.And as he came to his final years, he gave us the grand watchword of the aging Christian, “Give me this mountain!” Come on! There’s further to go! There’s more to do!

I must admit…I want to be like Caleb. I want the last part of my race to be the best part of my race. I want to run with perseverance the race that is marked out for me. I want people to say, “He preaches better than he used to.” I want my ending years to be characterized by being fully and wholly energized by the Holy Spirit.

We are not to concede to frustration, failure and bitterness.

I have met older people that are dominated by “What’s the use?” They have not recovered from some setback or disappointment they experienced years ago. Or their attitudes have become so permanently soured by injustices done to them, that they are paralyzed from further ministry.

It’s possible to lose sight of what you once saw…

But consider Caleb… He had seen the Promised Land already, years before. He had tasted its fruit and seen its potential, but he had had to spend forty years in the wilderness waiting because of the faithlessness of other people. But he did not concede to that frustration. At age 85, he lived out Winston Churchill’s familiar line, “Never, never, neve,r never give up!”

The vision was still clear.

2. Stay fresh and green by telling your story

Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71)

That’s what God has given to me to do – to declare His power to the next generation!

It’s an important consideration, but one that sometimes gets forgotten, that we do not lose our spiritual gifts as we get older. In many respects, in fact, some of those gifts actually increase in their effectiveness through skilful and practised use.

But in a general sense,  we note that there are no age limitations to ministry! There is no mandatory retirement age in the church. and the gifting you possess is not withdrawn at a certain chronological age.As we get older, we are not to let go and do nothing. For we are all called to minister. And the more time we have free, the more ministry we are called to do. There is no retirement from proclaiming the message.

And there’s a particular methodology here: it’s the grandparent role.It’s what I’m just doscovering in my own life

And I have a secret to share: I have come to realize that grandparents get away with saying things that parents can not. And even doing things that parents can not!

If you are a grandparent today, you have an awesome responsibility, for you have disciples to make out of your grandchildren. Paul makes this point in the life of Timothy:

“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”

I believe it is God’s design that grandparents communicate powerfully. They advise how to fear and set hope in God. They declare the importance of keeping God’s commands.
Not only that, they realize that the real sermons we preach, the really effective ones, are the ones we live.

Now perhaps you are not a grandparent, but you are old enough to be one. Do you realize that there are all kinds of grandchildren that need a grandparent’s touch? Perhaps they do not have grandparents or the ones they have are not living for the Lord…they need a godly example…they need someone that will invest in them and love them unconditionally.

They need you, because you have a remarkable ability to instill courage in younger people by expressing the hope that you hold deep in your heart. Stay fresh and green by telling your story. Proclaim the power of God to the next generation.

The Bible is full of illustrations of how this works. Think of….

Moses and Joshua …Eli and Samuel  …Naomi and Ruth …Elizabeth and Mary …Barnabas and Mark …Paul with Timothy and Titus  and…Elijah and Elisha.

This last one  is a classic picture of mentoring  (found in 1 Kings 19)

“So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. ”

We need to keep the cycle of disciple-making going. This is what we see in the relationship between Elijah and Elisha. When Elijah threw his cloak around Elisha, Elisha became a disciple of Elijah. Elijah gave him the greatest gift…his time and his life. He saw the potential in Elisha. He provided the example and shared the stories.He taught Elisha how to live life as God’s prophet. And then, he gave him his blessing. He said, “You can take it from here!”

Do you realize how powerful that is? It is the power of a vision for the future! And it is what true mentors do for the next generation.

Accepting our age is not always an easy thing. there are definite challenges to growing older. We live in an age that idolizes the young and looking young. It is a culture where fast is considered best, up-to-date a must and youth a big plus. As a result, we find ourselves going slower and slower in a world that’s moving faster and faster.And we become concerned that we are becoming marginalized and obsolete.

Someone said, “You know, as I got older I realized that I was beginning to come up with some answers to questions of life that so long had stumped me. And just about then I realized that nobody was asking me the questions.”

But if you feel you are done, think of Abraham and Sarah who were way too old to start a family…or Moses who only really got going at eighty…or Zechariah and Elizabeth…. and many many more.

The truth is: you are never “past it.”

So, in one sense, there are no free passes in our old age.We are even more responsible to testify to the Lord’s righteousness and power.

Why? Simply because we have learned more… We have had challenging moments and bitter experiences. We have had times of testing and lived through huge, dark storms.
And, because of that, we have grown in our awareness of our absolute dependency on God.

When we are young, we like to think that we are in control. But as we age, our dependence on God is less and less theoretical and more and more practical. We know that we are absolutely dependent on God. It happens to us because we are facing new physical and emotional challenges that make the truth of dependency more real than ever!

But there is much to do in telling our story because in spite of these challenges, God is still our Refuge.God is still our Deliverer. And God is still our Hope and our Sustainer. As we age, we become an example of a the striving for a living relationship and a trusting dependence on the Faithful God.

As we age, we are testimony of a faith that grows deeper, bigger, and stronger.

And even in our old age…

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The LORD is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” “

 

Lord, take me as I am, and use me where I am. I hear your word and receive it, that it is your design for me that I flourish in this season of my life.

Enable me to keep my vision intact and to proclaim your power to the next generation. I claim your word, that “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”

OK Lord, if I’m now to be an old man, then use me to capture the imagination of the young, to dream dreams, and to tell out clearly  what I have lived and seen of what You can do in our midst. Enable me to pass on the torch of faith, to give witness to Your fidelity, care, intervention, miracles and salvation and point the way for others.

In Jesus’ name.

 

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