When I was a young minister, occasionally I would ask the congregation to kneel for prayer. A wise worship leader advised, “For some of our older members, kneeling is painful. It’s better to say, ‘If you’re physically able to do so, please kneel with us in prayer.’” I thought my friend was overstating the problem, but I followed his advice. Now, years later, I understand. I wear knee pads when I kneel down to work in the house or garden. Years ago, I didn’t realize that our knees tend to lose their natural padding as we age.
Old people know more about being young than young people know about being old. Should we seasoned veterans prepare the younger generation for what lies ahead of them? Should we let them know that their metabolism is going to slow down and their “get up and go” will become “get up but slow”? Should we tell them that in the future they no longer will bounce in and out of cars or bound up flights of stairs? Should we let them know they’re likely to repeat some of the behaviors they currently dislike in their parents and grandparents? It’s probably better to keep our mouths shut and let them learn the lessons for themselves.
It’s likely the apostle Paul lived into his 60s. Along with the normal aches and pains of aging, he endured a frustrating thorn in the flesh and the harsh repercussions of all the beatings, stonings, and other hurts inflicted upon him during his missionary travels. Yet, Paul declared, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11). He said this, not just because he was young at heart, but because he had Christ in his heart!
The last word in the book of Acts is the Greek adverb akolytos, which means “unhinderedly.” The book ends with Paul facing a surprisingly positive form of house arrest. “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” (Acts 28:30, 31). As he aged, Paul’s freedom was limited, but his usefulness wasn’t diminished. His ministry thrived. He welcomed visitors who came to see him, and he kept teaching about Christ—without hindrance.
If you’re frustrated by your limitations and worried about the future, here’s a prayer for the new year. (If you’re physically able, you might want to kneel as you say it.)
Eternal Father, as another year fades into history and a new year begins, let nothing weaken my faith or hinder my witness for the gospel. In every season of life, help me to be faithful and to bear maximum fruit for you. I offer this prayer—and I offer my life to you in the new year—in the name of Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Amen.
Ponce de Leon didn’t find the Fountain of Youth in Florida, nor will we find it anywhere else on earth. But by faith we look forward to “new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17) where it’s always morning, aging is irrelevant, pain is nonexistent, all hindrances are removed, and disappointment is a long-forgotten memory.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Lesson based on The Lookout’s Scope and Sequence ©2018. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.