Will this be our last dog? Will this one be our last car? How much longer can we take care of this acreage with a shovel, a tiller, and a chainsaw? We did, in fact, decide that our last camping trip was probably the “last.” The drive is harder on us. The set-up takes longer and longer and more and more energy. We often wind up just sitting around the fire a whole day afterward to recover. Then there is the pull down and the drive home, and the seemingly endless unpacking and putting up. When we found ourselves dreading the next trip, we knew it was time to quit.
And so I look at our work in the kingdom and think, “How much longer do we have?” How many more classes will we be able to teach? How many more “weekends” will I be able to travel and teach large groups of ladies? And the more I wonder these things, the more I feel like screaming out, “You need to call while you can! You need to come while I am still able to see my notes and talk! You need to arrange your schedule and get here if you want anything I have left to give.” Because I really do want to share it with you, and I never know what tomorrow will bring.
I know several other older women who feel exactly the same way. None of us are getting any younger and it is precisely that problem that gives us so much to share with you—experience only comes with age, but age makes life precarious.
Every day we are closer to the last, and before that, we are closer to an age when our service will become limited, when all we may be able to do is offer to someone younger an opportunity to serve an older brother or sister. We will eventually become like Barzillai, the wealthy old man who supported David when Absalom rebelled. As David headed back to the palace, he asked Barzillai to come with him so he could be honored for his loyalty and service in an appropriate way. But Barzillai said to the king, “How many years have I still to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? I am this day eighty years old. Can I discern what is pleasant and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats or what he drinks? Can I still listen to the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king? 2Sam 19:34-35. But even at 80 he had served as he could, even if all it amounted to was using his wealth and his servants to do for his king, rather than doing the serving himself.
It is said of David after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation he fell asleep, Acts 13:36. As long as we are still alive, there is still a purpose of God to be served—we just have to use a little more creativity in finding it!
And for those who are young and reading this, your time is running out too. None of us really knows how long we have left. “All things being equal” we say about the young outliving us, but in this life nothing is ever “equal.” I have seen too many young people lose their lives to disease and accident to feel at all comfortable for you. You need to make the most of your time too. The purpose God has in mind for you may be a very short one.
And so it is up to all of us to make the most of the time, to “redeem it” as Paul told the Ephesians. Do not put off the spiritual things—Bible study, prayer, meditating, serving. Do not think that “someday” you will be in an easier time of life, a time when you can become a better Christian, a better father or mother, a better husband or wife. That time will never come unless you make it happen.
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Ps 90:10
It flies faster than you can ever imagine, and if you have not prepared yourself properly, eternity will last longer than you ever thought possible.
O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Ps 71:17-18