I pastor of a church that is loaded with what I call Seasoned Saints (a believer over the age of 65), and I have a lot of them, and oh yes, I am one of them too.
I wrote and prepared a sermon five years ago that I have never preached. The title of the sermon is "You're Never Too Old to Be Used by God". I will preach this sermon one day when the Holy Spirit says that the time is right.
Here is the introduction to that sermon.
Most of us here today are what a good friend of mine calls “Seasoned Saints”. Those are people over 65 years old. Some of us here today, including me, are way over 50 so maybe I should call us Super Seasoned Saints.
There is something which everybody wants and yet almost everyone fears, and that is growing old. Old age has many frightening aspects: an aging body which is more susceptible to illness; declining strength; feelings of uselessness (especially after retirement); the loss of friends and loved ones through death; the reality of one’s own death drawing nearer; loneliness; feelings of alienation from one’s children and grandchildren, who are busy with other interests and pursuits; and, very often, financial concerns due to dwindling income.
Sadly, our American culture does not esteem the elderly. Oh, we give lip service to it but when it comes right down to it we don’t really give us Seasoned Saints the respect that we deserve. The younger generation often views the elderly as a financial burden and, if they require our care, as an interference in the pursuit of pleasure and success.
Today about one out of every five people in the United States is over 65 and one out of every ten over 80. Bob Hope (Seasoned Saints will remember him) said, "You know you're old when the candles cost more than the cake." And Agatha Christie, the novelist, wrote on one occasion that she married an archaeologist. And someone asked, “Why would you marry an archaeologist?” to which she replied, "Because the older I get the more he'll appreciate me."
Western society often idolizes youth and marginalizes the elderly. In 2019, people in the United States spent over 53 billion dollars on anti-aging products. This reflects widespread anxiety about growing older. We fear the loss of significant work, the deterioration of our health, and the ability to be heard and valued.
What's my point? Psalm 71 addresses the fears of Seasoned Saints and how we should address those fears in prayer.
Psalm 71:9, 18 GNT Do not reject me now that I am old; do not abandon me now that I am feeble. Now that I am old and my hair is gray, do not abandon me, O God! Be with me while I proclaim your power and might to all generations to come.
He fears being disrespected and shamed by others
Psalm 71:1, 4, 10-11 GNT Lord , I have come to you for protection; never let me be defeated! My God, rescue me from wicked people, from the power of cruel and evil people. My enemies want to kill me; they talk and plot against me. They say, “God has abandoned him; let's go after him and catch him; there is no one to rescue him.”
He recognizes the loss of physical strength
Psalm 71:9 GNT Do not reject me now that I am old; do not abandon me now that I am feeble.
He feels vulnerable and dependent upon others.
Psalm 71:4, 11, 18 GNT My God, rescue me from wicked people, from the power of cruel and evil people. They say, “God has abandoned him; let's go after him and catch him; there is no one to rescue him.” Now that I am old and my hair is gray, do not abandon me, O God! Be with me while I proclaim your power and might to all generations to come.
Yet this is someone who has walked with God.
Psalm 71:5 GNT Sovereign Lord , I put my hope in you; I have trusted in you since I was young.
In the midst of lamenting his situation, the Psalmist models several ways to process these fears and anxieties.
First, he looks back over his life and recognizes that God has been faithful in the past and can be trusted with the future.
Psalm 71:6, 14-15, 17 GNT I have relied on you all my life; you have protected me since the day I was born. I will always praise you. I will always put my hope in you; I will praise you more and more. I will tell of your goodness; all day long I will speak of your salvation, though it is more than I can understand. You have taught me ever since I was young, and I still tell of your wonderful acts.
Long experience has taught him of God’s faithfulness. He can take comfort in God’s continued care.
Second, he knows he has an important purpose in life. He has a responsibility to relay what God has done to the next generation.
Psalm 71:18 GNT Now that I am old and my hair is gray, do not abandon me, O God! Be with me while I proclaim your power and might to all generations to come.
He can testify to God’s might and power in a unique way, given the perspective long years of walking with God have given him. By the end of the psalm, he has worked through his lament and turned instead to joyful praise
Psalm 71:22-24 GNT I will indeed praise you with the harp; I will praise your faithfulness, my God. On my harp I will play hymns to you, the Holy One of Israel. I will shout for joy as I play for you; with my whole being I will sing because you have saved me. I will speak of your righteousness all day long, because those who tried to harm me have been defeated and disgraced.
The bottom line is that the young can learn from the experience and wisdom of older saints so we Seasoned Saints should never stop communicating God’s goodness and grace to the next generation.