Growing Old In The Garden Of Grace
by Dennis Michelson
The Old One Is Me
Introduction: Growing old is unavoidable but growing up is optional! As saints get older they sometimes experience less capacity for work but there should be an increased capacity for fruit. Gray hair is said to be a crown of glory only if it be found in the way of righteousness.
One of the greatest blessings of life is to know people who are growing old gracefully. One of the greatest curses is to be around those who are growing old but have never grown up - they are bitter, divisive and self-centered.
The text before us mentions "flourish" three times. How is it possible for those who are older to actually flourish in their walk with the Lord, even as their aches, pains, and incapacities increase?
Psalm 92:12 says that they shall flourish like a palm tree. We are told that a palm tree will generally live anywhere from 30 to 100 years old. The tree may produce up to 30 pounds of dates per year. Notice the following about the production of this palm tree:
* It grows in the desert
* It grows in sand but sand is not its food.
* It is beautiful - an evergreen and gathers no dust
* It is useful - there are over 360 uses for what it produces
* It produces the best fruit in old age
Think about these points as they apply to the senior saint and there are numerous applications for those who have incorrectly assumed that they are "over the hill" or "have been put on the shelf." Older believers are one of the Church's greatest resources but often they want to step aside and let others do the work.
Sadly, some grow disenchanted and actually can become a hindrance to the work of the Lord because they equate less capacity for work as meaning less capacity for fruit.
To avoid this dilemma there are "three planting pointers" in the text.
1. They Need To Be Planted in the Right Place (92:13)
They are planted in the house of the Lord. This is not the time to slack off from faithfulness to God's House. They are also planted in the courts of our God. These two places suggest a place of worship and a place of fellowship.
Pastors need to be sure they encourage fruitful older believers to worship and fellowship. Often, in our hot pursuit of the younger crowd, we neglect those who have earned their stripes over the years and still have much to offer.
2. They Need To Be Producing the Right Thing (92:14)
They are bringing forth fruit. It says they are "fat and flourishing." Does this sound like the senior citizens in your church? Have we become so results-driven in our approach to the ministry that those who cannot "produce work" feel useless and neglected?
Think of what "fruit" really means and understand that the most fruitful members of your church may be those who cannot do as much work as they used to do. Genuine fruitfulness has no age restriction.
3. They Need To Be Praising the Right Person (92:15)
They are praising the Lord. Have you noticed how many older believers fall into a pattern of always talking about the past as if their best days are behind them? Such talk is understandable since that is all the world has to look for . . . but it is not biblical.
The best days are always ahead for the Christian. The word "flourishing" in the previous verse speaks of a state of fruitfulness which begins at age 60 for the palm tree and does not even hit its stride until around 70 years of age! May the Lord help us to have His praises on our lips rather than a monotonous recitation of our aches and pains.
Conclusion: The older believer may be at a desert place in his life but he can still be fruitful. He may be planted in the sand but the sand does not become his food. There is a unique beauty in those who have many years of life but remain planted in the house of God; producing fruit regularly; and praising the Lord.
Even with the ravages of old age when we cannot do what we want to do, we can still do what we ought to do. Pastor - if you have looked out over your congregation and become a bit discouraged because of so many gray heads then you need to meditate on this text. That "Arthritic Army" is one of the greatest assets a church can have. Fire them up and set them loose.
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