“O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come” (Psalms 71:17-18 ESV).
When I was a young man I had some grandiose ideas about how my life would turn out. I would preach to the nations! I trusted in my education. I trusted in my perception of the strength of my relationship with God. I thought my spiritual house was in order, after all God was using me.
I was on staff as a youth pastor; looking back, while I enjoyed my work, I saw it as a stepping stone to the greater things I hoped to accomplish. Things I wanted to accomplish.
I thought that I was putting my trust and faith in God. But it turns out, with the benefit of hindsight, that I had put my trust and faith in myself. It’s difficult even to write those words.
For years, even a couple of decades, I was looking for God to restore me to full-time ministry. I felt entitled; after all I had a degree! But the degree means nothing. The manner in which God used me when my faith was new means nothing. The plans I had mean nothing.
In fact, I have wasted over half of my life waiting for God to set things “right”. I’ve volunteered, taught classes, even led people to faith. But it was all in my own strength. I trusted my own strength.
I’m now nearing a milestone birthday, and I can finally see the error of my ways. I’ve learned that I am helpless to accomplish anything without Him. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV).
I take comfort in the fact that my age is irrelevant to God. He doesn’t choose to use only the young, well educated, or good looking. He looks for people who are willing to recognize their own weakness and His strength. He doesn’t look for ability, but rather availability!
Whether you are young or old, please hear my words: don’t follow after works of your own design; follow and submit to Him. Seek, above all else, to know Him, and He will order your life aright. As Paul said, “…“that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10 ESV).
The words of Psalm 71 are my prayer, that God would use me to teach the next generation how to trust in, and submit to, God in all things. That is how to age well!
Blessings on your day!