FBCJ Feature Article: Profile Of The Gray
PROFILES OF THE GRAY
Psalm 71:18 (NKJV) 18 Now also when I am old and gray headed, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.
One of the areas that have been deeply alarming in the American society is our treatment of our elderly population. Unfortunately, many of our younger generation view the elderly as a financial burden and/or interference in their pursuit of the American dream. A former governor of Colorado, Richard Lamm, discussing the spiraling cost of healthcare said “terminally ill elderly people have a duty to die and get out of the way.”
Prayerfully, all of us will reach the age of retirement and then if God allows us the strength we will begin to fulfill our desire to provide a significant service to the community that will affect the greater good of our society. Our elderly men and women should be treated with great respect. The Bible gives us many scriptures on how we should treat our senior members of our community. In 1 Timothy 5:1 & 2, Paul instructs Timothy: Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers. In Leviticus 19:32, Moses demands that: 32 ‘You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord. Proverbs 20:29, King Solomon exhorts us to value them by saying: The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is their gray head (experience). In Titus 2:2-4, Paul gives valuable counsel for senior citizens to Titus by saying: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children. According to the Population Reference Bureau report on aging in the United States and other research journals, there are significant demographic shifts, positive developments and devastating challenges for our graying adults or seniors. Here are a few highlights:
- The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to double from 46 million today to 98 million by 2060.
- Older adults are working longer because the average U.S. life expectancy increased from 68 years in 1950 to 79 years in 2013.
- The aging of the baby boom generation fuel 75% increase in the number of Americans 65 years and older requiring nursing home care.
- Demand for elder care is fueled by a steep rise in the number of Americans living with Alzheimer disease.
Growing old does not have to become a frightening proposition. We all agree that there are challenges with growing older like your aging body becoming vulnerable to illness, declining strength and stamina, feeling of uselessness, the loss of friends and loved ones through death, the reality of mortality, loneliness, feelings of alienation from children and grandchildren because of their hectic schedules and the financial concerns due to dwindling income. However our text provides a healthy prescription on how to grow old gracefully. Psalm 71, King David provides a gray headed profile of the divine formula of to weather the storms of life. King David list three items we need to do to grow old gracefully:
- We need to develop a deep knowledge of God
From his youth he was taught about God. 5. For You are my hope, O Lord GOD;
you are my trust from my youth. It reminds us of the important task of our parent’s to train up a child in the way they should go, when they get old they will not depart from it (Prov. 22:6). When we train them, they will see God’s mighty deeds (71:16), God’s strength and power (71:18), God will bring them through trouble and restore them (71:20), God will be their source of comfort through your trials (71:21) and finally God will redeem their soul (71:23).
- We need to develop the godly habit of trust, praise and hope
When we are constantly doing God’s will, we will develop a habit of trusting, praising and hoping in the power, provision and presence of God. A habit is developed by frequently repeating something over a period of time. In Psalm 71:3, 6 & 14 David reminds us to continually (always) trust, praise and hope in God. Even when enemies speak and lay in wait to harm and persecute you (71:10 & 11), he had a habit of trusting in God (71:1&20), praising God (71:6,8, 14, 22-24) and finally his hope was built on the promises of God (71:14).
- We need to develop a lifestyle of ministry for God
Even though the psalmist was old (in his 60’s) he did not forsake his responsibility of serving God by testifying to others of God’s faithfulness and power (71:8, 15-18, 24). There is no retirement from ministry or serving God. We tend to go with the cultural view that retirement is the time in life when we can do what we want. King David teaches us that we do not earn the right to do what we want to do with our time. Our life and time belong to God. When you retire you have more time to serve God.
When we review the profiles of the gray (our elderly Christians) we recognize that God’s way for us to grow old is for us to develop a walk with God. Whether young or old we must fulfill the mission and vision God has given to the FBCJ house, we must transform our community one family at a time. We must let the world see the youthful energy of our witness and the wise and experiential witness of our seniors.
Let the profiles of the gray lead us to fulfill our mission and vision:
Led by the Holy Spirit, we will preach the gospel through holistic (spiritual, social, economic and political) development of our community to uplift and glorify the Kingdom of God while effectively developing disciples of Jesus Christ to bring the transformative gospel to the community of unbelievers.
Minister to the eternal, educational, emotional, environmental, and economic needs of all people through Christ’s liberating gospel by word and deed creating transformation for the whole community.
By Pastor Derek V. Gatling