Never Too Old
“David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep…” (Acts 13:36).
The opening phrase of T.S. Eliot's poem “The Waste Land” contains a poem by the Roman poet, Petronius: "With my own eyes I saw the Sybil of Cumae hanging in a bottle; and when young men said to her: 'Sybil, what do you wish?' she replied, 'I want to die.'"
The Sibyl, according to Roman legend, was a prophetess, suspended in a bottle in the temple of Hercules near Naples, Italy. She was granted long life by Apollo, as many years as grains of sand she held in her hand, but she had forgotten to ask to retain her youth. As she aged she withered away. Now she only wished to die.
Is this now your thought? Has strength and beauty so withered away that you’re only waiting to die?
Think of your longevity as God’s uncommon gift to you. We live in a world in which most people die young. (Life expectancy in the United States is 79 years. In Afghanistan it is 44.) It’s a marvelous thing to live in a society where, by God’s providence, you can grow old. There must be a reason for it; God must not be done with all he has purposed to do in and through you. View your aging as a gift, a gift to give back to God. Though old and gray you can declare His goodness to the next generation (Cf., Psalm 71:9-18).
I think of Anna, approaching Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, “to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). Anna was 84! We’re never too old to speak to those who long for salvation.
Paul put it this way: “For me to go on living in this world may serve some good purpose. I should find it very hard to make a choice. I am torn in two directions—on the one hand I long to leave this world and live with Christ, and that is obviously the best thing for me. Yet, on the other hand, it is probably more necessary for you that I should stay here on earth. Because I am sure of this, I know that I shall remain and continue to stand by you all, to help you forward in Christian living” (Philippians 1:23-25, J.B. Phillips).
Growing old but not retiring,
For the battle still is on;
Going on without relenting
Till the final victory’s won. —Anon.