Jump Start # 2040
Hebrews 9:27 “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”
I was asked a question recently. I have been asked this before. The situation is generally the same. It’s an older Christian who has walked with the Lord for decades. They long for Heaven. In their sweet way, they ask, “I don’t know why I am still here? Why doesn’t the Lord take me?” The ones that ask this are not depressed, despondent or fixated upon death. They have lived a full life. They have lived a faithful life. They are ready, but here they remain.
Age hinders them from teaching as they once did. Their memory isn’t strong and the energy it takes to teach simply isn’t there. Entertaining others is hard. They have done this for years and years, but now, it’s just too hard on them. These folks are not walking around with a sad face. They smile, connect and offer advice to others, but still, they wonder, “Why am I still here?”
Modern medicine has made it possible for us to live much longer. Cancer is no longer a death sentence. Medicines, surgeries and various forms of rehab has made living into the 90’s not only a possibility but a reality for many folks. We live longer these days.
Our passage has something to do with this question. Why am I still here? The simple answer is, “It’s just not your time.” God has a divine appointment and He’ll call us home when it’s our time. But for some, they feel as if they are more of a burden to brethren and their families. They feel like they are not helping out as they would like. Unable to do much, they become dependent upon others for their care and wellbeing. And, so, the question is asked, “Why am I still here?”
Here are a few thoughts:
First, you are setting an example for your family. Your continual devotion to the Lord, your attendance at worship services, your character, your kindness are leaving footsteps for others. Instead of being a grumpy old person, who bring charm, sweetness and the spirit of Jesus into a room. You remind your grown children how they need to think about others. Your decades of commitment encourages those who are younger. Your family will long remember that you made a promise to the Lord and you stuck with it. Even when it wasn’t easy. Even when you didn’t feel the best. Your very example does more good than a month of sermons.
Second, your years of experience helps the church. You have hung in during good times and hard times. There were the battles. There were the days when things were small and money was tight. There were issues that came. There were days without leaders. You’ve seen it. You’ve been there. Our culture today is stuck on self. It’s easy to bail when things are not the way we like it. Your example has helped hold a congregation together. You have kept our eyes upon what is really important, and that is the Lord and His word. You may feel that no one listens to you any more, or, worse, no one today cares, but that’s not the case. It’s time for others to pick up the sword and the banner for Christ. You have made it possible for a congregation to continue. Throughout the land, many congregations have folded. Young people have moved away. Few new people came. Leaders left. The church dwindled down until it was necessary to close the doors. That’s happened in many places. But, there are other places where that small band of disciples hung in there, worked hard and made a strong and powerful congregation. People like you, who stayed, not just in the same location, but you stayed with the Word of God, made it possible for a congregation to exist today. Why won’t the Lord take you? Possibly because more needs to hear your story, a story of faith.
Third, God simply isn’t done with you yet. That’s the best answer I have. Maybe you can’t teach anymore. Maybe you can’t preach. Maybe you get tired very easily these days. Maybe you get things jumbled up in your mind. John Newton, the author of the hymn Amazing Grace, was interviewed late in life. He said that he was old and forgot nearly everything. However, there were two things that he’d never forget. He said, “I am a great sinner and Jesus is a great Savior.” There are two spectrums of faith that brings so much to a congregation. First, it’s the young. It’s the teenager and the college student. Sharp. Energetic. Full of questions. Curious. Passionate. Second, it’s the senior citizen. Aged. Experienced. Dedicated. Faithful. Both make a church. Both are necessary. Sometimes the two groups do not understand each other. Sometimes the aged fear the young in faith. Sometimes the young think the aged are stuck in their ways. But when they connect and when they work as one, what a wonderful blessing they add to a congregation.
In many ways, it would be wonderful to just go from the baptistery to Heaven. Just bypass this messy and crazy world we live in. But that’s not God’s way. He needs us to be His hands and feet and eyes. We must be busy doing good works so others will glorify God. We must let our lights shine. We must invite. We must show. We must serve.
So, with each day that we have, we must find something worthwhile to do to help others and to honor God. Rather than focusing upon what we cannot do, let’s find what we can do. I was talking with a 90 year old Christian recently. She needed some get-well cards. When asked why, “to send them to the folks in the church you are not feeling well.” Now, that’s the spirit. Keep working, doing what you can, until the Lord calls us. Some of us get the honor of serving in the kingdom for multiple decades. What a privilege that is. I recently took a picture of three preachers who were all in their 80’s. Heroes! They looked fail and old. But they were still preaching and doing whatever they could for the Lord. I wondered how many thousands of sermons those three had preached. How many hundreds and hundreds of lives they helped. They were not sitting in rocking chairs doing nothing, they were still teaching and preaching and encouraging others. They were going to keep on working until the Lord stopped them.
What we do changes with age. Find what you can do, and get at it. Someday, the call will come. Our time here will be completed. We will leave a legacy of good. We will leave impressions of what really matters in life. We will leave footprints for others to follow. Hopefully, we leave, making things better than we found them.
Why doesn’t God take me? He will. Just be patient. In the meantime, keep busy doing what you can in the kingdom.