“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
Researchers recently conducted a study to evaluate the different decades of life. According to their interviews, the happiest decade is the 60’s. (One of my friends said, “Yeah, the 60’s definitely had the best music.” – No, the researchers were talking about age.) The second happiest decade of life turned out to be the 70’s. So a lot of us have some good years to look forward to.
I suspect these results came as a surprise to more than a few people – younger people, that is. I know when I was a teenager and in my twenties, my picture of someone 65 years old involved slow movement, aches and pains, and needing bifocals, hearing aids, and a cane. … OK, that may sometimes be the case, but there’s much more than that to life in one’s 60’s. My perspective on this season of life has changed significantly for several reasons, the biggest one being: I am about to turn 65.
We attend a church in Louisville where the vast majority of members are under 40. It seems half the women there are carrying babies, and the other half are pregnant. Many of the young men are seminary students with a passion to serve God. It’s a young, energetic church, and I love it, but I am definitely in the oldest 5% of the congregation.
The church we attend in Florida has a very different demographic. There are a huge number of retired people here, and that combined with the fact that it’s just a huge church in general, creates a cornucopia of opportunities for people my age. Here on “vacation” I am busier than I am back in Louisville. There are Bible studies or prayer meetings nearly every day of the week, special events for missionaries to share what God is doing all over the world, “hymn-sings,” outreaches, and just times of good fellowship in the coffee shop or book store. These people have amazing stories to tell. They are taking missionary trips all over the world, rescuing people from human traffickers, discipling younger Christians, teaching (and doing) spiritual warfare, engaging the world with the hope-filled message of the Gospel, and seeing miracles in the form of changed lives.
These people are not what I would have pictured forty years ago, and neither am I. Back then I had a grim picture of my future self hobbling into church, singing the hymns in a shaky voice, falling asleep during the sermon, and driving my antique car back home to feed my cat and take another nap. (The Beatles’ song “When I’m 64” was no help.)
But now it’s not hard to find inspiration from people God has used in the latter half of life. The most obvious “Exhibit A” in the Bible is Moses, whose ministry began when he was 80, and there are other examples that I won’t go into now. In more recent history one can read of massive revivals that began when two elderly people joined at a kitchen table to pray for their nation. Fast forward to the 21st century, where TV, radio, and the Internet make it possible to send a message to millions at a time. Most of the great preachers and Bible teachers I have listened to on the radio make mention of their grandchildren, so I know these aren’t twenty-something guys just out of seminary. I recently heard of a woman in her 80’s who has been sharing the gospel with a million Muslims in Pakistan. (Glory!) And we have just said goodbye to a giant of the faith, Billy Graham, who, having impacted the world immeasurably, passed into eternity at the age of 99.
So, people my age could conceivably have another 35 years to serve God. That being the case, I do not want to spend those years warming a pew on Sunday mornings and spending the rest of the week watching TV.
Yesterday as our ladies’ Bible study was wrapping up, I heard there was a prayer meeting starting in another room. I walked in to find a group of women my age gathered around a small table. They welcomed me warmly, and we spent the next two hours partnering with God to change the world, one prayer request at a time.
I have come to see people over 60 as an often overlooked resource in the Church. We are not over-the-hill has-beens! We are people who are finished with the 9-to-5 jobs, who are finished raising our children, and who now have the time to serve the Lord with all of our passion and energy – and we have plenty of both. We are ready to answer whatever call God may have on our lives. If we can get past the image that the world and the AARP have created (a smokescreen of the devil, I’m convinced), we are a force to be reckoned with. As I was reminded yesterday, God is raising up an army in these latter days, and I for one want to be a part of it.
Prayer: Lord, every moment of life comes from You, and we are each here for a purpose. Help me to recognize Your calling on my life and yield to Your plan, seizing every opportunity to make an eternal impact on my world; make me a glove on Your hand. Do Your will in and through me, in Jesus name and in the power of His blood. Amen