We decided a few years ago that we had rather see some splashes of color here and there instead of waist high green grass and assorted head high weeds, so we planted several cans of mixed wildflower seeds around the perimeter of the mown section. The first year they did not do much, but the second year we had a nice showing of coreopsis, gaillardia, and gloriosa daisies. They come up again every spring and have even spread out into the field in a few places.
Four summers ago I started cutting the deadheads and scattering them around. I thought it might be nice to have some up by the gate to greet our guests and scattered a few up there. The next year I had two orange firewheels, the more colloquial name for gaillardia. The year after that we had about six. Last year I quit counting at 20. They were so thick it was hard to tell exactly how many there were—we’re talking plants, not blooms, which were many times more than 20. I can hardly wait to see what happens this year.
You’ve seen deadheads. They are gray or brown, shriveled and dried up. You would never think they had once been beautiful blooms or were any longer valuable at all. But “deadhead” is a most inaccurate name for them. Inside those ugly old blooms lay the potential for thousands more beautiful blooms.
Have you looked in the mirror lately? Some of you are a lot younger than I, but no matter how young you are, you are not as young as you used to be. Someday you will be my age, and most of you will get even older than that. It’s easy these days, especially facing a major disability, to think that I am no longer useful in the kingdom. It’s easy to say that since I might not be able to get out much any more, that I cannot serve. When you grow older, you will face the same feelings. If you are older, you may be facing them already.
But that is not the case. Just like those dried up flowers, you have the potential to reach thousands through your example. Maybe the only example you are able to give any more is faithfulness—but it is a powerful one, and always needed. You are there when the doors of the meetinghouse are opened if you can drag yourself out at all. Sometimes you are there when you ought not to be. You have been married for 40, 50, 60 years to the same husband or wife, and the devotion between you is still obvious. You sit quietly and never cause any trouble. In Bible classes you make comments that show you have lived by the scriptures. You have children who are faithful to God, to their mates, to the body of Christ, and who are good citizens of this earthly country as well. Do you think none of that counts?
If you are young, you need to start making good use of these resources. Too many times the young are stuck in the self-centered ways of youth, forgetting that older Christians have lived a life every bit as interesting as theirs. Get them to talking sometime about their past. You just might be amazed at what they have been through and survived; things you will probably never face in these prosperous times. And you will find one of the helps God always intended you to have—the wisdom of the aged. I have learned more valuable lessons from quiet people with halos of silver hair than from any pulpit preacher I have ever listened to—and I have heard some pretty good ones.
Setting an example is not something we have a choice about. As long as we are alive we do just that. And it may be the most powerful thing any of us do. You are never shriveled, dried up and useless as far as God is concerned. You are always sowing seeds. Be sure you sow the right ones.
The hoary head is a crown of glory; it shall be found in the way of righteousness, Prov 16:31