“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
This article appeared in Perspective in December 2017. One year later, in the early morning December darkness at Bellevue, Washington’s City Park, I slipped and fell headfirst down three flights of outdoor cement steps. What I’ve not shared before is how during months of painful recovery, I wondered silently if, in this third near-death experience of my lifetime, I had finally reached the place where I could “hang it up” at last. But just as before, the words came to me again, “Not yet. There is more.”
Two and a half years later, we removed the cast from my 6th surgery since the fall, which was on my left foot/ankle and leg. I hope it is my last. The work I do is different now but full of challenge and purpose. So before you “hang it up” for the last time, listen carefully. You may hear the words,
“Not yet. There is more.”
EACH OF US HAS A VIEWPOINT about growing old. We internalize over time a stream of stereotypic images about later life. We receive signals suggesting we’re past our prime, out of touch, so yesterday, or have no meaningful role to play in life! It is no surprise that even the most upbeat among us can become discouraged, ready to pack it in. Even in a time when seniors and retirees are more actively engaged in life, experiencing better health, and continuing to fulfill leadership roles in our home, churches, and communities, these damaging feelings can hack into the thoughts and images of ourselves.
IF THE IMAGES OF OLDER PEOPLE in our lives are negative or we’ve been made anxious by observing others who’ve been ‘crowded out’ in their later years, is it no small wonder we might feel this way? Even though we put on a good front, it hurts deeply to feel we have something to give, something valuable and important, but are no longer invited to share it.
In confidence this past year, I have clergy and business leader friends who have expressed deep feelings of depression and loss in this newest season of their lives. When I tell them I have “been there, done that!” and the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train, hope rises, and often, a much-needed bond is forged between us.
WHEN I RESIGNED in my 23rd year as senior pastor at Valley Christian Center, Dublin, California, I left exhausted on all levels. I had given my best to our church family, but I was done. The well was empty. At least that’s what I thought. Later on, I discovered God was not finished with me yet. We still had things to do together. He waited until I was able to go there.
If you’ve read this far, you resonate with my story. Be encouraged to recognize the symptoms of burnout and discouragement, but don’t give in to them.
God reminded Jeremiah, “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
The prophet had to revisit these words later in life, a reminder he was still a vital member of God’s team, even during his darkest, most difficult days. And so, too, with you. The truth is, God is not finished with you yet.
YOU ARE CHOSEN, set apart, and appointed! You have a mission to leave a legacy of faith to those you love: your children and grandchildren. Older, wiser grandparents are needed today, more than ever. Grandparents must continue to resist the lies of the world, our culture, and the god of this world – your influence in the lives of your children and grandchildren is great!
YOU HAVE AN APPOINTED calling and purpose given by God to your family. So, check-in with the Coach. God intends for grandparents of all ages to be strengthened by the grace in Christ Jesus and to continue as a good soldier with Life’s Third Age. Give it all the heart and talent and skills and wisdom you have. Join the growing movement of men and women who choose to allow God to use them as a disciple-maker in their families.
You are chosen to finish well!