As long as I'm alive in this body, there is good work for me to do. If I had to choose right now, I hardly know which I'd choose. Hard choice! The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful. Some days I can think of nothing better. But most days, because of what you are going through, I am sure that it's better for me to stick it out here. — Philippians 1:22-24 (The Message)
I have a special audience in mind here, so bear with me if you feel like somehow you don't fit with this message—because if you don't now, you will someday. Trust me. This short little treatise is addressed particularly to My Generation. We are older than the boomers. We're better known as "senior citizens." Some people, on a good day, may even call us "Seasoned Saints!"
I remember the first time I was asked if I was a senior citizen by a friendly waitress wanting to give me a free cup of coffee. I lied. I wasn't ready for that designation. Now I can't escape it—and I don't want to. I've learned that those extra discounts add up, especially when you're on a fixed income!
Sometimes inwardly, I feel like I'm in the prime of my life, with one exception, as my friend Dennis Cole recently put it, "I've discovered that aging can be shocking. There is a moment when 'that person in the mirror really isn't me!' It's just what I look like these days. Right? Help!"
Our contemporary western culture has invented a word that many of us at our age know too well and quite frankly have become enamored with, so much so that we've spent the majority of our life trying to get there and the rest of our life trying to maintain it. Most of us have accepted the designation without rebuttal. The word is "retirement," and it usually conjures up images of leisure, playing endless rounds of golf, climbing Kilimanjaro, running with the bulls, traveling to the farthest destinations in an RV, or whatever is on our "bucket list" of things to do before we die.
Personally, I've tried retirement five times now and it just doesn't work, and I bet it doesn't work for you either. Perhaps Harland David Sanders, better known as Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, said it best: "I've got no idea when I am going to retire. Whenever they pick me up and take me to the funeral home, I guess." He made it to 90! Way to go, Harland!
The problem with the word for believers, the way we use it, is that it's not in the Bible. Sorry, it's just not there. So now what do we do? What we do is finish the race strongly. Some "Senior Saints" I know have quit running, as if the race was over. But it's not over until it's over—and God has a way of letting us know when that is. He takes us home.
The apostle Paul, who was still going full speed well into his sixties, said this:
"But none of these things (adversities) move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24).
There are literally thousands of Christian organizations today, including your local church, that need your wisdom, your experience, your talent and yes, your checkbook, to bring glory and honor to God through their ministry outreach all over the world. Recently, my wife and I made a simple inquiry to The Voice of the Martyrs that put us to work right away as volunteers in behalf of the Persecuted Church. Now we, along with others, are helping increase their presence in New Mexico.
So there is a place for you. If God has blessed you with reasonable health and material things so that you don't have to worry about that part of life right now, you are in a perfect place to volunteer your gifts and abilities to further the cause of Christ wherever you live and whatever your age. Yes, you may have to get out of your comfort zone, but it will be worth it as you continue to serve the Lord with the gifts He gave you that never go away (Romans 11:29).
So my older friends, if you've quit running, hey, a slow walk is OK with God. But, if for some reason you have gotten out of the race altogether and become a spectator, let me encourage you to get back in it. You'll have an eternity to rest up. Maranatha!