A message for the elderly

Dear friends, there are ministries for every age group at TGS, but today I want to share a message for the elderly, adapting quotes from J.I. Packer’s book “Finishing Our Course with Joy.”

DECLINE            ‘The common assumption is that old age is mainly a process of loss, whereby strength is drained from both mind and body and the capacity to look forward and move forward in life’s various departments is reduced to nothing. The realist teacher of Ecclesiastes urges the young to remember your Creator before … the clouds return after the rain (troubles recur) …the almond tree blossoms (hair turns white), the grasshopper drags itself along (one’s walking grows erratic and unsteady) Eccles 12:1-5.’

RIPENESS ‘But neither in the Bible nor in life is this the whole story. Like a mature ripe piece of fruit increasingly the elderly will display a well-developed understanding with a well-formed character: firm, resilient and unyielding, with an unfailing sense of proportion and abundant resources for upholding and mentoring others … an enlarged capacity for discerning, choosing and encouraging.’

LAST LAP ‘Runners in a distance race, like jockeys in a horse race, always try to keep something in reserve for the final sprint. We should aim to run the last lap of the race of our Christian life, flat out.

Live for God one day at a time. We need to get into the habit of planning each day in advance, either first thing each morning or (better I think) the day before. Glorifying God should be our constant goal.

Live in the present moment. Get into the habit of practicing God’s presence — more specifically, Christ’s presence (Matt 28:20)- and cultivate the divine companionship. Daydreaming and indulging in nostalgia are unhappy habits, making for unrealism and discontent.

Live to go when Christ comes for you. Jesus is not only the courier who will take us from this world to the next, but at some point in that world he will be our judge. Be sure to enter now, by faith, into a personal relation of discipleship to Christ. Thus the prospect of transitioning we will find alluring rather than alarming.’

WRONG WAY ‘Wrong Way’ signs warn us that we will go against the traffic or are on a road that peters out. Our secular Western world advises retirees: ‘Relax. Slow Down. Take it easy. Do only what you enjoy.’ It prescribes idleness, self indulgence and irresponsibility. This, over time, will generate a sense that one’s life is no longer significant, but has become useless. If your old age is dreary and boring, it will be entirely your own fault, and you don’t want that.’


It has been a great joy to be part of the leadership team at TGS over the past two months, and Diana and I are grateful for your fellowship and encouragement. And I know we are all looking forward to Trevor and Sue being ‘back on deck’ this week.         John



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