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The Beauty of an Aging Preacher

“They will still bear fruit in old age” (Psalm 92:14).

“My name is Joe and I am old.”

I know, I know. Some of you think I’m bragging. And maybe I am. But, even though it has a few drawbacks and, as some have said, “Growing old is not for sissies,” there is much to be said for the golden/silver (leaden?) years in service for the Lord.

You have lived through many decades on this planet, you have seen things few around you have experienced (and have the scars to bear witness), your lessons learned are solid and sure, and your reasoning powers have not abandoned you.

You have much to offer, senior saint.

Psalm 92:12-15 “The righteous one will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”

Those four verses are keepers, such memorable lines. I love this little text, but in no way have I mastered the content. Here are some random thoughts …

—Palm trees, we are told, grow from the inside out, whereas “normal” trees add girth from the outside, increasing one ring per year. Godly men and women grow from the inside. “Even though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” That’s II Corinthians 4:16. Love it!

What’s going on inside you today? What is growing there?

—The cedars of Lebanon were the timbers used in constructing the temple. When King Tut’s tomb was unearthed in Egypt, furniture made of Lebanonese cedar appeared as fresh as though it were made last week. The giant cedars adorn the Lebanon flag even today. Like those cedars, godly veterans grow strong and fine, and the work they do lasts forever!

What lasting work are you doing? What of you will remain after you leave?

—”Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.” This suggests nothing to me other than a vine. Trace that winding vine through all its leafy wanderings, and eventually you will find that its roots are deeply anchored in God’s house, drawing its life sustenance from the nearness of the Father. Faithful elderly go here and there serving God, doing all manner of things, but trace us to the source and you find we are anchored in God’s House, in the Lord Himself.

Where do you find your strength? What is your source?

—”They will still bear fruit in old age … full of sap … very green … to declare the Lord is upright … .” Godly old people are fruitful, youthful, beautiful, truthful. Let’s take those one at a time …

Fruitful. Bearing fruit in old age. God’s senior saints often have energy, will hopefully have the resources, and always have the experience that can bless so many who are coming behind them. But they must not allow themselves to be put on the shelf. They have so much to offer.

Look around to see who you can bless.

Want to see how this works? Check out Barzillai in Second Samuel, chapters 15-19. When King David was fleeing Jerusalem with his little entourage—his son, Absalom, was leading an insurrection and storming the city—as they crossed the Jordan River, the royal party was hosted by several old friends, including Barzillai (see 17:27-29). Later, when Absalom is dead and the rebellion over, David is returning home. At the Jordan, he invites Barzillai to, as we say in the rural south, “Come on and go home with me.” David wanted to repay his hospitality.

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Joe McKeever has been a preacher for nearly 60 years, a pastor for 42 years, and a cartoonist/writer for Christian publications all his adult life. He lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi.