The importance of godly elderlies
Also, when I reach old age and have gray hair, God, do not forsake me, until I have declared your power to this generation and your might to the next one. -Psalm 71:18
Proudly standing at the entrance of La Coruña harbor in north-western Spain this tower is considered the oldest lighthouse in the world. It is known as the Tower of Hercules. It was erected in the late 1st century and renovated in 1791. It measures 180 feet high and sits on top of a 187 feet rock. The original Roman designed core has been carefully preserved while the technical aspect of the structure has undergone elaborate restoration. Everything about this lighthouse is fascinating. In particular, its interior, which is built entirely in stones. Each stone is held by another stone without the use of any adhesive!
But the most amazing fact is that it is still being used for maritime signaling and a keeper still tends to it on a daily basis. With almost 2,000 years of history, the Tower of Hercules is truly a testimony of the importance of lighthouses not only in antiquity but in today’s world. Imagine, after 2 millennia and it is still standing and still shining!
Today the kingdom of God has millions of spiritual lighthouses throughout the world. While many have been newly erected (new believers) others have been standing for quite some time. These long-standing godly towers are the elderly who continue to shine the glorious light of God in spite of the many storms they have had to endure during their lifetime.
Throughout biblical and secular history old people have been regarded as the pillars of society. In many cultures, especially in the eastern hemisphere, they are held in the highest regard. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the western world. In a society that glamorizes youth, beauty, and strength, our elderly do not hold a significant position as in other cultural groups. In many cases, they get lost in the crowd or are pushed aside and their input is not encouraged let alone taken into consideration. They are regarded as antiquated and out of touch. The saddest part, unfortunately, is that this is true even in some of our churches today.
They need to feel like their longevity is a treasure in jars of clay.
Referred to by modern demographers as the “young old” (65-70 y.o.) and the “oldest old” (75+), seniors still have a lot to contribute. Today’s young church has a tremendous responsibility towards our elderly siblings in Christ. But more than a responsibility it has an awesome opportunity to learn from their persevering spirit. That is why we need to encourage our seniors and help them realize that they are not just a part of the church, but a significant source of wisdom and inspiration. We need to help them realize and be grateful for the privilege they’ve had to live through so many challenges and changes. They need to feel like their longevity is a treasure in jars of clay. We also have to help them avoid going into isolation as a result of feeling useless and forgotten. But in order to accomplish this, we need to be intentional in communicating, sharing, and fellowshipping with them regularly. They need to be a part not only of the church life but of our personal life as well. We need to engage them, love them, and give them opportunities to shine the light that is still burning brightly within them. Perhaps if we remind ourselves, from time to time, that we too will eventually end up in their shoes it would help us to live by the golden rule.
Consider these few bible verses that talk about the glory of old age.
- “Stand up in the presence of the elderly and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the LORD.” -(Lev 19:32). Honoring the elderly is not just a piece of biblical advice. It is a commandment, a law. They may be frail in body, but mighty strong in spirit. Their long life, faithfulness to God and the church, and perseverance merit respect, admiration, and utmost praise.
- “I shall satisfy him with long life, and grant him to see my salvation.” -(Ps 91:16). If anyone can be a true witness to the faithfulness and salvation of God is the elderly. It would behoove us to ask them for spiritual advice especially when we navigate through the seas of fear and doubt. Be honest, wouldn’t you rather get counseled by someone who can empathize with you than by someone who can only sympathize? I know I would.
- “Teach us to count up the days that are ours, and we shall come to the heart of Wisdom.” -(Ps 90:12). One of the charms of becoming old is wisdom. But this wisdom does not come automatically. It is the by-product of fearing God and living in obedience to His word through every circumstance. It comes from a life of commitment, longsuffering, patience, and a heart full of grace. It is the wisdom we all need to realize that life is truly not about us and our temporary trials, but about God and his eternal plan.
- “In old age, they will still bear fruit.” -(Ps 92:14). Age and physical limitations are not an obstacle when it comes to functioning as a lighthouse for God. The power of the Holy Spirit is at work in and through us as long as we are willing to shine for Him. Old people can provide the guidance, encouragement, and hope that so many desperately need. Perhaps we need to allow them to publicly address our congregations more often. We need to hear about their struggles, their victories, and their defeats. But remember, unless they feel important and needed it will be very difficult for them to share their fruit.
Like the Tower of Hercules, our elderly are a living testimony of the importance of being a spiritual lighthouse. Their steadfastness and commitment along with their spiritual maturity are like the stone blocks that hold each other up to form an unmovable faith that testifies of God’s faithfulness. And as long as they remain standing and shining we are to take the role of a lighthouse keeper and watch out for their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. We should look up to our elderlies for guidance and strength just as mariners have looked up to the Tower of Hercules for the past 2,000 years.
Take a moment this coming week to thank the young olds and the older olds of your congregation. Perhaps even suggest that your church hosts a month-long Senior Appreciation celebration! And remember, you can always pray for them (in person), hug them, kiss them, buy them a gift, and engage them in honest conversations. Visit with them, invite them over to your home, or take them out to dinner. Ask them to tell you their story so that when you have grown old you too will be found still standing and still shining.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for our elderlies. Thank you for their lives and for their unmovable faith which is a source of true inspiration. May my gratitude extend to them personally as I commit to thanking them, love them, pray for them, and make them part of my spiritual life. Heal those that are sick, strengthen those who are weak, lift those who are downcast, encourage those who have lost hope, and renew those who have grown weary. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.