Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A Superpower Senior Citizen

Dear Friends,

There among the bills and the birthday cards was another invitation to join AARP. FREE BIRTHDAY GIFT - If You Join Today! It went in the trash. I’ve been receiving these invitations for well over a decade now and perhaps I’ll become a member of AARP someday, but I’ve decided that I’m not going to do that until I get old. In fact the “older” I get, the more clearly I realize how subjective age really is. Our “age” is no more than our perception of our self and that’s why the grey-haired gentleman with the white beard who stares back at me in the bathroom mirror always surprises me. There is a disconnect between the way I feel and the image of the old guy in the mirror. As George Burns once said, “You can’t help getting older but you don’t have to get old.” Can you say “Yes and Amen!” to that?

In our Wednesday church service at the residential care facility, the large majority of our congregation are in their eighties and nineties. We do have a few in their late fifties and early sixties – we call those guys the “youth group.” I love to quote Proverbs 16:31 “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life” and I frequently talk about Caleb who has become one of their favorite heros in the Bible. Here’s why...

When Moses led the people of Israel to the Promised Land, God told him to send twelve spies to scout the land. Ten of the spies said that the people who lived there were strong and powerful and there was no chance of taking the land from them. The two other spies, Joshua and Caleb, knew they could take the land because God had promised it to them. But the people didn't have the courage or faith to believe Joshua or Caleb so God punished the nation's lack of faith by sending them back out into the wilderness. 

It’s now forty five years later. Moses had died, Joshua was the new leader and had killed or driven most of the enemy out of the Promised Land. But Joshua is getting too old and tired to fight battles so he is dividing up the portions of land still needing to be conquered. Imagine his surprise when his old friend Caleb (the same age as Joshua) comes to him and asks to lead the battle against the Anakites:

“Now, as you can see, the LORD has kept me alive and well as He promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise-- even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. So give me the hill country that the LORD promised me.” Did you catch what I underlined? And if you’d like, you can read Caleb’s story in Joshua 14:6-15 NLT & Joshua 15:13-19 NLT.

I love this! As an 85 year old senior citizen, Caleb now charges off to lead the final battle that would bring peace to the Promised Land! Joshua 14:14-15 Caleb had said to Joshua, “..give me this mountain that the LORD promised me..” Caleb was grabbing hold of his God-ordained destiny! This senior citizen was eager to climb the next hill and conquer the next obstacle. Caleb shows us that those who walk with God will always reach their destination. He shows us that we are never too old to accomplish God's plans and purposes for our life. 

What a great inspiration he is to us as we complain about our aches and pains! We reach for the ice cream as we lay back on the couch and turn on the TV. Caleb reaches for that promise from God and leads armies and climbs mountains. Caleb was as strong at 85 years as he had been at 40 years because he wholeheartedly followed the LORD, the God of Israel, and never stopped doing the Lord's work. I can’t help but to believe that this 85 year old grey-haired senior citizen would not have recognized his image in a mirror either.

If you too have gray hair and the highlight of your old age is medicare and senior citizen discounts, please know that our Bible is filled with stories of how God used senior citizens! Abraham was 75 and his wife, Sarah, 65 when God promised them a child. Moses was 80 when God spoke to him from the burning bush. Daniel was most likely in his 80's when he was thrown in the lions den. Saint John was around 90 years old when he wrote the Book of Revelation. At around the age of 104, the prophetess Anna was used by God to reveal that the little boy named Jesus was the Messiah (Savior) sent by God to redeem them and save them from their sins. Luke 2:36-38

But my favorite guy is Caleb. This was a man who resisted the temptation to sin as he got older. He was a man of God who exemplified faith, confidence, will-power, tenacity and courage as a senior citizen. At an age when too many of us have given up and become resigned to a diminished quality of life, Caleb inspires us to stay young at heart, strong in the Lord, flexible and willing to change with the time. Caleb was a man after God's own heart and Caleb kept an attitude of thankfulness for all that God had done for him. Caleb trusted God for everything. We should too. 

For those of us in our golden years, an AARP card provides limited benefits unless you really do want that discount at Denny’s. But the God of Caleb, and of you and me, provides both eternal and earthly benefits. He promises: “I will be your God throughout your lifetime-- until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” Isaiah 46:4 That promise from God is the only lifelong benefit we will really ever need. Amen?

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