No matter how old you are, God has plans for you! Ps. 92:14

If you will recall one of the final scenes in the movie Saving Private Ryan, Captain John Miller’s squad of the 101st Airborne was fighting to save a little village called Ramelle.  Captain Miller, played by Tom Hanks, laid mortally wounded on the east side of the bridge.  The Germans were finally being pushed back by American planes and troops as Miller took his final moments to express his feelings to Private James Ryan.

As he looked up into the eyes of Private Ryan, the sole remaining son to carry on the family name, Captain Miller said, “James, earn this.  Earn it!” What Captain Miller was reminding all of us was to make our lives count!

Every time I see that movie and come to that last scene I think back on the days of recovery from my non-malignant brain tumor surgery.   I remember consider the importance of my life being one that is spent on the right priorities. I continue to be strongly committed to that goal.

God did more than a life-saving surgery in an Oakland hospital in 1981: He transplanted into my heart the desire to make my life count, to trust and serve Him to the best of my abilities.

I don’t believe that every person getting their priorities straighten out means they should go into full-time ministry.  It is truly a calling from God upon the heart, an anointed appointment.  Just as some are born and gifted to be musicians, artists, plumbers, accountants, and so forth, a person is called and equipped by God to do whatever He has placed upon a person’s heart. Some of the most effective men I know are in business or the trades and have impacted people for Jesus wherever they go.

In 1981, I realized that I had a new standard by which to measure my progress and success.  Was I doing things just to exalt myself or was there going to be a deeper more profound meaning to my work?  Was I going to squander my time spending too much time watching television or just “hanging out” or would I use my life to do something that had eternal consequences.  Was I going to retire or re-fire my life for Jesus.  

Nowhere in Scripture do I read that we are to retire from the joy of serving our Lord.  If God gives Louise and me health, we plan to encourage others in their quest for knowing God and making Him known as long as possible. I’m beginning to realize that having a balance to life is important.  We need time to rest, re-juvenile, refresh, restore, and renovate our bodies, mind, and spirit.  But in doing so we need not divorce ourselves from the mindset of Finishing Well – Finishing Strong. 

In the book of Luke, we see the account of two individuals of advanced ages who played key roles in the first weeks of Jesus’ life.  Simeon was a righteous, devout man, filled with the Holy Spirit, who had been waiting with eager anticipation for the coming of the promised Messiah.  When Mary and Joseph presented their infant son at the Temple, Simeon prophesied over Jesus with great joy.

The widow Anna was a prophet who stayed in the Temple around the clock, fasting and praying.  She, too, praised God when her eyes fell upon the Christ child.  At age 84, Anna became one of the very first witnesses to tell others about Jesus.

I think of people like Moses, Abraham, Joshua, Noah, and countless others who really didn’t begin to fulfill God’s plan for their lives until they were in their later years.  Retirement shouldn’t be a time to put our lives on the shelf; but it is an occasion when we finally have the time and the wisdom to fulfill the Great Commission – Go Make Disciples.

No matter how old we are, God has plans for us.  In Ps. 92:14 we read, “Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.” Aging will be a joy when we let God walk with us.

Personal Application:

In my book Finishing Well – Finishing Strong, I suggest that we won’t grow weary along the way.  Even our Lord took an occasional “time-out” to rest and restore His body and mind (Mark 4:37-38, Mark 6:31).  Where is the balance in your life that allows for a biblical approach to family, work, worship, rest, and play?

What are you doing that has eternal rewards?

How do you measure and apply the words spoken by Jesus in the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-28, and especially in Matthew 25:21: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Jim Grassi, D. Min.