First Person: A heart prepared to serve at every age
>>by Bill Pierce, President, Baptist Village Communities
What do you want to do with the rest of your life? I know that is not a very good question. A better question is, “What does God want you to do with the rest of your life?” The best question is, “What stands between you and God?”
The question, “what do you want to do with the rest of your life” is one we ask seniors who are a part of the ministry of Baptist Village Communities. Recently, a man in his 80s was asked the question and he said, “Why would you ask that? I only have, perhaps, two years to live. How could I start something new?” We answered, “You may have two years. How could you not use it to serve the Lord?” His entire perspective changed. He suddenly had two whole years to serve the Lord.
Seniors who are in Christ are not different in this respect from other Christians. They want to serve in the ways the Holy Spirit leads. They are excited and humbled to serve our Lord.
Sometimes people use phrases in the Bible like, “They shall still bring forth fruit in old age” (Psalm 92:14), and place emphasis on the word “still,” as if we are surprised that seniors are “still” involved in the work of the Kingdom. Seniors would likely laugh at that. The fruit that verse expresses is not a surprise, it is a promise; yes, even an expectation.
Joshua was old and advanced in years, the Scripture says in Joshua 13:1, when the Lord said to him, “You are old and advanced in years, and very much of the land remains to be possessed.” Sometimes, people read that verse and say, “See, God still uses old people,” as if we are a little surprised. When, in fact, that verse is not about a surprise. It involves a promise; yes, even an expectation.
What will you be doing when the Lord returns? Seniors will be serving the Lord in the very ways in which they have been gifted by the Holy Spirit. We like to say in the Baptist Village Communities ministry that we serve together, and of course we do. The word “retire” is being taken out of our everyday vocabulary; the word means, “To remove from service.”
Our theme is Serving God, Serving You, Serving Together. The theme is based on Galatians 5:13 which says in part, “… through love serve one another.” We know that the people we serve are serving us too. This removes the concept that we can care for them, but they cannot give anything in return. We know exactly what they do. They love others in Jesus name and serve in His Kingdom. We serve together.
Our society likes to put things on a shelf. Things often get used up and discarded. The world often looks at people over a certain age like a fuel gauge in a car. When you are young, you have a full tank and can do a lot of people a lot of good, but when you are old, you have an empty tank and can’t do anybody any good. Boy, does the world ever have it wrong.
God looks at His children, regardless of age, in a completely different way. He looks to see if our heart is prepared. “For God sees not as man sees, for man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
My friend, Abe Deutschendorf, who served as a director on our board, a state representative for 12 years and a teacher and educator in the Lawton school system for many years, lived in Lawton and was a member of Lawton, Trinity. I am told that on the last day of Abe’s long life, he was serving a meal to the homeless at Trinity. He was doing the thing that God called him to do in the Kingdom.
Roy Enterline is 97 years young and is the chaplain to the folks who live and work at Baptist Village of Broken Arrow. His joy is to serve his Lord every day. He serves our Lord with the other people who live and work there.
I teach a Sunday School class at Edmond, Henderson Hills. Most of the folks in the class are between the ages of 60 and 75.
It is very exciting to see how the Lord is leading them; Robert and Syretha Lair are preparing to go to Nicaragua to minister for two months; Ray Baker has just begun a ministry to people who are in substance abuse recovery; and Ken Dormer is preparing to move to Virginia to serve as a professor in the new medical school at Liberty University. All of these people are excited about serving the Lord.
When people “still bring forth fruit in old age” it is never a surprise to me; it is a promise from the Lord; yes, even an expectation.
What about you? It is never about age. It is about our heart being prepared to serve.
Now, back to the original question: What does God want you to do with the rest of your life?