Fruitful Life in Senior Years

Written by M. Larson

spiritualgrowth_fruitfullseniorsMy cousin was a lieutenant colonel with the US Air Force and he retired when he was 52. He took a job teaching science in a junior high school. Most of us have to wait until we’re 62 or 65 until we retire. What will we do then? Will we just sit and vegetate? Or might we look forward to something more exciting?

Well, I’m over sixty now and I don’t plan to vegetate! For years I have served the Lord in various ways: child evangelist, home missionary, pastor’s wife, writer, church musician, personal witness, counselor, teacher and my life of following Jesus has been exciting! I don’t plan to give it up until He takes me home.

Now I have a new adventure in His service. Since earning my doctor’s degree in religious education and certification as a counselor, I’ve been counseling hurting women as a ministry, helping them through difficult times.

But I have talked to other seasoned citizens who have said, “Well, I have done my bit for the church. Let the younger ones take over.” Is that Scriptural? Not according to my Bible!

Biblical patriarchs and matriarchs

  • Noah was 500 years old when God told him to build an ark to save himself and his family, his wife, three sons and three wives from the great flood He would send in judgment upon the earth. Evidently Noah was past the age of fertility for he had no children after that.
  • Abraham was 100 and Sarah 90, both past their child-bearing years, when God gave them their son Isaac. Abraham lived long enough to train this son of promise in God’s ways and make sure he got a good wife.
  • And how old were Moses, Aaron, and Miriam when God called on them to lead the children of Israel out of bondage? (see Micah 6:4) Well, Moses was 80, which even in those days wasn’t exactly young! Aaron and Miriam were perhaps eight or ten years older. With God’s help, Moses led several million Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and ruled them for forty years in the wilderness. Aaron served as the high priest of God. Miriam was a prophetess who led the women in joyful worship and dancing praise of God. (Exodus 15:20-21)
  • By King David’s day people were fortunate to live to the age of 70, which was when David died. A thousand years later, however, the aged apostle John was still going strong for the Lord at 90, at which age he was exiled to the Isle of Patmos because of his activity for the Lord. There Christ gave John his amazing glimpse into the future revealed in, “The Book of Revelation.” (He also used John as the writer of the last book in the Bible!)

Serving senior saints today

God is still using senior saints today to His glory. Dr. John Dreisbach and his wife Bettie still serve the Lord as missionaries on a island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, operating, healing and sharing the good news of Christ even though they passed ‘retirement age’ years ago.

Now I suppose they could say to the Lord, “Lord, you know how often we’ve been separated from our children and grandchildren. It would be so nice just to be close to them now, watching the little ones grow. But I suspect the Dreisbachs also think of their spiritual children and those who are yet to become such. These are their treasures in heaven.

When a former pastor of mine and his wife, George and Janice Johnson, were edging toward retirement age, they started a mission church. People have come to know Christ as Savior and have grown in the Lord since it was started, and the church is growing.

Another acquaintance of mine, Dora Fowler, had made delightful plans with her husband for their future retirement together. When her husband died of a heart attack, however, her whole world seemed to collapse. After grieving for several months she asked the Lord what He wanted her to do with her life. A registered nurse, Dora yielded herself to God’s will. He led her into serving as a volunteer worker with an inner-city church in Baltimore, Maryland, where she ministers to many.

Volunteer service

You could emulate these fine servants of Christ in some way. Missions have a great need for volunteer or short-term help, not only in the medical field, but in construction, clerical, organizational, printing, teaching, editorial and other fields. If you’re interested in helping some mission, your church, or a work that helps people, why not contact its headquarters and ask what kind of help they can use? Much of the work might be something any willing worker could do – such as helping with getting mailings out.

After they retired, my next-door neighbors gave ten years of volunteer service to a Christian publisher in New Jersey, helping with various phases of the work. Another acquaintance, soon to retire, transferred to Chicago in order to do volunteer secretarial work for a mission. This became a full-time job for her.

Another lady in her eighties goes with a group each week to a local rest home, to play the piano for a service. Small churches may need someone to type and run the church bulletins.

Many churches would appreciate having some older people regularly visit and comfort shut-ins, or to do other visitation work. And truly committed and knowledgeable Sunday school teachers are hard to find these days!

Younger teachers may come in late for Sunday school, refuse to attend its assembly, fail to show up or fail to study the lesson or follow up on absent pupils. Why should those who have learned much from God and His Word during their lifetimes sit on the sidelines just when they are needed the most?

Special for pastors

Now here’s a word to pastors. Might you be overlooking one of the greatest sources for the spiritual growth of your people in not using your seasoned source of spiritual riches – your older church members? Many of these people have gone through the school of life, the trials and suffering that have taught them many spiritual lessons and refined their faith in God.

Titus 2:3-4 says that the older women are to train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self controlled and pure, to follow God’s way for godly women.

The early church leaders were referred to as ‘elders,’ and certainly in the context of 1 Peter 5:1-5, it must carry that literal meaning. These were to shepherd the flock of God; young men were to be submissive to those who were older (vs. 5). While young leaders are certainly needed in the church, older Christians should also be included and respected among the church leadership.

According to I Corinthians 12, all Christ’s followers are part of His body, the church and are necessary to its well being. We all have some special talents, we all can pray and encourage others. Our Lord has left each of His servants here on earth for a purpose.  May we fulfill ours until He comes or until He calls us home.

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