Summary: God’s grace is sufficient to keep us, no matter what our age or station in life.
God’s Amazing Grace
January 15, 2006
My grandma and grandpa Lovell lived on a farm just over the Indiana/Michigan line north of Orland. They moved off the farm when I was just five years old, but I still remember great times that we had there. My grandpa died about seven years later, but my grandmother continued to live in a nursing home for several more years. I remember an incident that happened between her and my mom when she was in her mid-eighties that still causes me to smile.
There was some event of some kind for which grandma needed a new dress, so my mom took her shopping. They shopped and shopped and shopped and shopped. Grandma just couldn’t find anything she liked. Finally, my mom was getting so frustrated that she was just about ready to call it a day. She asked grandma what she was looking for and why she couldn’t find a dress she liked. My grandma said, “All the dresses we’ve looked at are for old women.”
Age is so often a state of mind more than a physical reality. Toni and I led a group of folks to a pilgrimage to Israel back in 1992. There was a ninety-one year woman who accompanied us on the trip. One day, Toni took some pre-trip materials over to her house. She knocked on her door and didn’t get an answer, but hearing noise in the backyard, she walked around the side of the house. She finally found Edna up on her roof replacing shingles!
We are learning that age doesn’t necessarily determine one’s energy level, physical state, or mental sharpness. But we ought to know that this is nothing new. Just remember Abraham. When Abraham was seventy-five years old, God told him to leave his home and travel to a new land in order to become the father of a whole new nation. Just as he should have been settling down to a life of easy retirement, God told him to go someplace else. And if that wasn’t enough, twenty-five years later, at age 100, he became a father. He’s a better man than I am.
Dominique saw an article in the paper about families adopting infant girls from China. Girls in that culture are not as valued as are boys and so are often subjected to a more difficult life. Dominique thought that Toni and I ought to adopt one. I quickly laid out my excuses. I am fifty-two years old. It is not uncommon for an adoption like this to take three years or so. I would be fifty-five when we finally received this baby. Number two, I’m not sure adoption agencies would look too kindly on such an old guy becoming a father of a new born. Number three, I will be seventy-three when she graduates from high school. Number four, I’m not sure I have the energy anymore to follow a toddler around the house. And finally, I’ve changed enough diapers with the first three kids.
I’m pretty sure that Abraham had some of those same thoughts. In fact, I know he did. When God told him that he would become a father, his wife Sarah laughed (Genesis 18:12). I am sure that Abraham laughed right along. I have a feeling that this laugh was more than just a snicker. I’m sure that it was a knee-slapping, eye-watering, shooting-your-soft-drink-through-your-nose, belly laugh. What an absurd idea this was. But Abraham and Sarah both learned, with the birth of Isaac, that age doesn’t matter to God.
Now, you may think that Abraham was old, but Noah was five hundred years old when he had sons (Genesis 5:32) and six hundred years old when God told him to build an ark (Genesis 7:6). Age doesn’t matter much to God.
At the other end of the scale, when God was looking for a new King of Israel, he chose David, the youngest of the sons of Jesse (I Samuel 16:1-16). God needed a prophet, and he called this young kid named Jeremiah. Jeremiah told God that he wasn’t up to this because he was so young, but God answered him that age wasn’t the issue (Jeremiah 1:4-8). The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and told him not to let anyone look down on him because he was so young (I Timothy 4:12). When God decides to use someone to advance the agenda of the Kingdom, not only does age not matter, but also God doesn’t care too much about physical condition, wealth, poverty, or any of the other stuff that we think is important either.
The Apostle Paul, if you remember, was afflicted with a physical ailment that he called his “thorn in the flesh” (II Corinthians 12:7-10). We don’t know what that was, perhaps epilepsy. Moses was not only an old guy, but he didn’t speak very well. Many scholars today think that he stuttered (Exodus 6:30). Joseph was a slave in Egypt when God worked in his life to save the people of Israel from famine (Genesis 47).