Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

The Last Season

The Last Season

“In the middle of the twentieth century developmental psychologists, when they treated old age at all, often regarded it as a period of withdrawal.  The elderly slowly separate themselves from the world, it was believed, in preparation for death.  They cannot be expected to achieve new transformations.  ‘About the age of fifty’, Freud wrote, ‘the elasticity of the mental processes on which treatment depends is, as a rule, lacking.  Old people are no longer educable” (The Social Animal, David Brooks, p. 339).  Brooks then writes that recent research has disproven much of the above.  “Seniors are completely capable of learning and growth.  The brain is capable of creating new connections and even new neurons, all through life” (p. 339). But what does God say about aging?

Ecclesiastes 12:1-7

In this section of Scripture we find one of the most articulate and honest evaluations of aging.  There is a picture legs and arms trembling (12:3), stooping posture (12:3), dental issues (12:3), loss of sight (12:3), loss of hearing (12:4), difficultly in sleeping (12:4), fear of high places and highways (12:5), graying hair (12:5), and loss of sexual desire (12:5).  Rather than giving into the temptation, when older, to withdraw, let's consider, instead, the wise use of our golden years and consider the honest advantages of growing older.

The Value of Experience

“One study of air traffic controllers found that thirty-year-olds had better memories than their older colleagues, but sixty-year-olds did just as well in emergency situations” (Brooks p. 340).  The benefit of a having lived many decades is that you, like these more experienced air traffic controllers, have seen many things before.  As the Christian grows older he or she may realize that they no longer care to know the names of the leading actors or actresses, the most current movies and who the latest pop star might be, but there is something invaluable we know better and better each day: exactly who God is, (2 Timothy 1:12 “I know whom I have believed”) and who we are in His eyes. If we've been disciplined throughout our adult years, we know better than ever what is true and what is false. I may really stink and knowing the trivial from the 90’s, but who cares when I can answer the most relevant questions pertaining to life.

Free from the Burden of the Future

As we grow older I realize that many questions about the future, that once were asked of us, are over.  “What are you going to do when you grow up?”  That question has been not only discovered, but realized.  We can now look forward, not to a lifetime of service, but to the reward of such service (2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 14:13).

Free from the Burden of the Past

Living faithfully frees one from regrets.  As a Christian I do not look back and say, “I never got around to asking or resolving the big questions”.  Or, “I should have spent more time seeking the favor of God”.  “Or, I enjoyed nature, but comply missed the Creator of all the beauty around me”.  Even secular writer, David Brooks notes in his narrative of a man at the end of his life, “The view of the mountains and trees soothed him and enlivened him.  But they didn’t satisfy him.  As others have noted, nature is a preparation for religion, but it is not religion” (p. 366).  As Christians, we have allowed nature to do what it was intended to do: lead us to God (Psalm 19:1-2).  We will have not missed what life was all about—reverencing God and honoring His will (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14), and because of that true spiritual enlightenment, we can say at the end of our lives, "It was a life well lived."

The Importance of Good Memories

Living faithfully is difficult, at times, but the payoff is vast, not only in eternity, but in this lifetime as well.  The older you get it is very important to look back on success rather than failure.  Being a good parent, husband, mother, wife, friend, Christian.  Sometimes older people like to rummage through boxes of old photos and memorabilia, so right now be smart, as you are putting those boxes together while young: save only the happy reminders. 

A Lesson Learned About Time

“There’s an old fable about a monk who went for a walk in the woods, and paused to listen to a loving trilling of a small bird.  When he returned to his monastery, he found nothing but strangers there.  He had been gone fifty years.  Some afternoons Harold felt that his personal time scale had slipped its gears” (p. 367).  In like manner, we may find ourselves going back to our hometown only to be surprised when we don’t see anyone we remember, perhaps forgetting just how long it's been.  As Christians age they understand far better God’s view of time.  A thousand years is nothing to God (2 Peter 3:9), and 10 or 20 years ago seems just like yesterday to the aged Christian.  We really understand how short our life-time is (Psalm 90:12), and how we never really had any extra time to burn (Ephesians 5:16).  Foolish people may complain about having to be married to the same person over a lifetime, while the faithful Christian is sadden that their life-time with their soul mate was so short. Let's determine to make the very best use of all our opportunities, both in marriage and in our other relationships.

Aging Brings Advantages

“Most people report being happier as they get older.  This could be because as people age they pay less attention to negative emotional stimuli…older people are better able to keep their emotions in balance, and bounce back quicker from negative events…Personalities often become more vivid, as people become more and more of what they already are” (p. 340).  As a Christian this is very encouraging. 

  • The increased ability to look at problems from varied perspectives.

  • Becoming more skilled at observing a situation without jumping to conclusions, but instead hearing both sides of an issue fairly.

  • Being better at distinguishing truth from error; and faith from opinion.

  • Gaining more courage and the willingness to speak one’s mind when truth is at stake.

  • Becoming a better, more persuasive communicator, by being firm yet warm; friendly, yet convicting (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

  • Being less and less concerned about what the world thinks or what is popular or trending in the culture, and thereby having won the battle against shallowness and fear.

  • Enjoying the realization that we don’t have to use our precious time at this stage in life to figure out the basics.We are well acquainted with the character of God, the relevance of Jesus' life and death, what God has communicated to us through scripture, and to a better degree, what is going to happen after we die (2 Timothy 1:10).

Practical Help

  • Write out a “business plan” for your last years.Remember goals do not just naturally happen, you must work at them to make them a reality.What do you want to read, create, how do you want to serve, what sort of group of friends do you want to have, and how close do you want those friendships to be?

  • If you want close friends, then you must now starting investing in friendships.Many people in the world find as they grow older they are surrounded by a shifting grow of semi-friends, but without a small circle of intimate friends. Continue to make new friends, reach out, be social, always replenishing your life with new and interesting people as old friends may exit this life before you. Reach out to friends in the past, reconnect with people from High School, College or former jobs.Seek to influence them for good.

  • Make and have a list of people for whom you pray regularly.

  • Go back and reconnect with people who have fallen away.Let them know that you love them, God loves them and seek to persuade them to get back into the kingdom.Lovingly reminding them that the days are shortened (Romans 13:11), laborers are needed and others are having to pick up the slack they have created.

  • We can still learn new and fascinating concepts as we age, and often have more free time to do so!So what do you want to learn now?Make a list! Look at this period of time as “your second education”.Now you get to spend your time pursuing things about which you are truly passionate!

    Mark Dunagan/