Summary: Preached for Grandparents day; talking about aging issues; Thesis: Let us consider some signs- characteristics, qualities, or practices- along the journey that may help us as we navigate “the land between”
To the tune of Jesus Loves Me
Jesus loves me, this I know though my hair is white as snow, though my sight is growing dim still He bids me to trust in Him (Chorus: Yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so)
Though my steps are oh so slow with my hand in His I’ll go On through life, let come what may, He’ll be there to lead the way (Chorus)
Though I am no longer young, I have much which He’s begun, Let me serve Christ with a smile, go with others the extra mile (Chorus)
To retire implies, “to take out of use.” What a sad description. Our high tech society makes many older adults feel obsolete. Os Guinness fights against this. In his book called the Call, he reminds everyone that we never retire from our calling (a biblical idea). No longer on the job, yet hearing the Caller’s voice, many retired persons occupy the land between. Land between what- living here and now, and of a place beyond our wildest imaginations- described in the Book of Revelation as a place of glad reunions, of endless time, of security, where there is no terror, pain, disease, sin or death. In every culture, it is the retirees and the elderly who remain most aware of “the land between.” One British show called it waiting for God- so passive.
Despite ageism in Western society, older adults to a large part determine their happiness in “the land between.” On the one hand, they can allow society to chart their future and to set their self esteem and then blame the younger generation for their fate. This feeds on passivity and leads to bitterness. On the other hand, senior adults need to recognize that to some degree their future depends upon their own efforts. They shape their personal attitudes and destiny.
To finish life well we must select our destination with care, choose our companions wisely, chart our course, and follow trusted points on the compass. For ages, trekkers have used the stars for guidance. On a clear night, a navigator scans the skies for the North Star and uses it as a guiding beacon toward his destination. Retired persons, similarly, are trekkers and mapmakers in their own right. Are there reliable signposts leading from the land of retirement to one’s final destination?
Thesis: Let us consider some signs- characteristics, qualities, or practices- along the journey that may help us as we navigate “the land between”
Living with hopeful expectancy
The pull of the past exerts a powerful force on all the anticipated actions of retired persons. C.W. Brister talked about a friend’s recounting the history of his family’s generations from early American beginnings to their tombstone markers in cemeteries in the deep South. His ancestors had struggled with family crises, financial concerns, attacks from Indian tribes, fears about health, talks of their fathers’ exploits, to questions about the future. We can certainly learn from our forebears’ achievements and contributions, as well as their shortcomings and limitations, but do we have to lock ourselves into the past and now just “wait for God”?
We have all been around people who believe they are the hopeless case- someone who has given in to fate or despair. Some older adults plunge into depression because of their losses. Many just give into the despair and give up all hope. Fortunately, we can help people look at life with a wide angle lens and see a larger, longer picture. We can help people to see how the centuries speak to their lonely hours. Biblical history, for example, relates how the Jews, who were people of faith and hope, despite tribulation, clung to the expectation that the Messiah would come and the world would be better. Come oh Come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel; in addition the Jews were not passive waiting for the Messiah- did many things by faith from the time of the Exile until the coming of the Messiah
Psychiatrist Karl Menninger, talked about hope in his book Love Against Hate, “hope is the dim awareness of unconscious wishes which, like dreams, tend to come true.” Dr. Menninger rightly anchored his views of hope in the Scriptures, often citing the Apostle Paul’s “these things remain” in 1 Corinthians 13. “Hope is humble, it is modest, it is selfless. Unconcerned with the ambiguity of past experiences, hope implies process; it is an adventure, a going forward, a confident search.” “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14, NIV.