You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
“The NHS is at crisis point” screams the media. “We have an aging population; there are 500,000 more people over the age of 75 in the UK now than in 2010 and by 2020 that figure will rise to 2,000,000. These people are blocking beds in our overstretched hospitals, because although fit to be discharged there is no care available from local authorities” they cry. What reaction would Abraham and Sara have received on arrival at their local NHS maternity unit?
It makes anyone over the age of 70 feel unloved, unwanted and an inconvenience to society. Yet are we really ready to be consigned to the scrap heap? After all, the President of the US is 70 and he has enormous power to do good in the world. Just because a person reaches that magical age he should not be cast aside like an old glove, for he still has a part to play. As the prophet Joel said: ‘And afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions’ Joel 2:28 NIV. Note that ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people’ not just the young. Certainly as we age there is a limit to what we can do physically. Opening a child proof bottle of tablets can be a struggle or we may ask “Why am I standing on the stairs? Am I going up or coming down?” Yet God calls each of us to a unique mission. We are not called to save the world on our own but, as Henri Nouwen says: ‘Faithfulness to a small task is the most healing response to the illnesses of our time.’
So what is the message here? Is it “Honour thy father and thy mother” Ephesians 6:2? Well, yes. But perhaps the more important message is that to God age does not matter. Elizabeth and Zechariah were beyond child bearing age but God has a very important task for them, for example. And nearer to home God waited until I was 75 before calling me to write these reflections and I have no doubt He will call me to do more for Him in the future.
Each of us, whether 17, 27, 57 or 77 years of age is called to some unique purpose. Let us ask God to help us to see what that call is and to give us the strength to carry it out. We are not alone in this task for: God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.1 Corinthians 1:9 NIV. We are called to work in fellowship with Jesus. The call may start out as something small, but like the ripples on a pond it will spread.
What is God calling you to do for Him today? Just ask Him and be open to listen carefully for His response.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time work for a number of years