Summary: Before passing on, make sure you pass it on by leaving a legacy.
Leaving a Legacy
Rev. Brian Bill
Jeanne Calmert, at 120 years-old, was the oldest living human whose birth date could be authenticated. When asked to describe her vision for the future, she replied, “Very brief.” When a reporter asked what she liked best about being so old, she answered wryly: “Well, there’s no peer pressure.” I heard about an elderly man who was filling out an application for a retirement village. He very carefully and deliberately answered all the questions. After filling out his current address he came to the word “Zip” and printed: “Normal for my age.” A young child asked a woman how old she was. She answered, “39 and holding.” The child thought for a moment and then asked this question: “And how old would you be if you let go?”
I want to propose this morning that no matter how old you are, or whether or not you have much zip left, it’s not time to let go. If you’re in the golden years of life, you have more to give. As we grow older, our responsibilities grow with us. Listen to the words of Psalm 92:14: “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.” Or to say it another way: Before passing on, make sure you pass it on by leaving a legacy.
Pontiac has a lot parks and our family takes advantage of them on a regular basis. One of the most unique ones is called Dargan Park. Perhaps you’ve seen the three statues made out of iron. Below each one is a maxim set in a stone.
* Under the one that depicts youthfulness: As children, learn good manners; as young men, learn to control the passions.
* Under the one in the middle: In middle age, be just.
* And under the one that shows an older man: In old age, give good advice; then die without regret.
I like that. In old age, give good advice; then die without regret.
Aging in America
In a special aired on MSNBC a few years back, researchers found that “The most defining social change taking place is the aging of America.” Here are some stats that I’ve pulled together from the Census Bureau, the National Institute on Aging, and AARP (which I get to join in just two years).
* Someone turns 50 years of age every six seconds and people over 50 account for 43% of all U.S. households
* The over-85 age group is the fastest growing segment of the population and the number of citizens over 85 will double by 2030
* The U.S. population age 65 and over is expected to double in size within the next 25 years
* Life expectancy at the turn of the century was approximately 46 years; today it is approximately 76 years
According to the Reveal survey results, 44% of people at PBC are over the age of 50 which means that we are reflective of our culture. Several weeks ago I shared some stunning national statistics about how faith is not being passed from generation to generation. Let me refresh your memory.
Judges 2:10 paints a picture that may be prophetic of the state of the church today: “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel.” These findings from Thom Ranier in his book The Bridger Generation, show the decline of evangelical Christianity among each successive generation. Here’s the percentage of born again believers in each generation: