Generation to Generation
She sat across from me, frustrated. Others didn’t understand her passion to pursue her craft. They encouraged her to enjoy her retirement. Rest, sit back, and enjoy life they said. She didn’t want that. Why were they pushing her out to pasture? Why were they assuming her age dictated her need for a quieter life?
As I listened to my friend I realized we pressure both children and seniors to live within a box society dictates. Continually, there is a quiet message that one is too young and the other too old. Marginalizing these generations is culturally acceptable. God doesn’t see it that way. In fact, we see throughout Scripture that age does not dictate our usefulness.
God called both the young and the old to fulfill His will. Psalm 71:18-19 says “Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me. Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can compare with you, O God?” The old proclaim the virtues of God.
We see examples of the elderly used throughout scripture. One of my favorites is the prophetess, Anna. Her whole story is summed up in three verses in the book of Luke. She was 84 and never left the temple. She worshipped there by fasting and praying. Declaring thanksgiving to God when she saw the baby, Jesus, she encourage Mary and Joseph. Afterwards, she shared the promise of the baby with anyone she saw. There was no retirement for Anna.
Likewise, don’t discredit the young. The apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to “not let anyone think less” (1 Timothy 4:12) of him because he was young. We can learn so much from younger people. Paul also told Timothy to live in love, faith, and purity. So we need to encourage this when we see it and not discount them simply due to the years they have lived.
The prophet Jeremiah proves this to be true. Jeremiah 1:7 says “The Lord replies, “Don’t’ say, I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.” Jeremiah tried to remove himself from God’s call because of his age. God had other plans. Age never disqualifies you for what God has planned.
Honor and listen to each generation. Recognize that people of all ages can be used by God. Stop marginalizing and criticizing a generation with a broad brush. If we think less of an age group we simply must forgive them and ask God to forgive us for our judgement. We are one body, designed to work together. Young and old as one church. 1 Timothy 5:1-2 says “Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. 2 Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.” Mutual respect will ensure we are about God’s business.