I once read in a book about early American history and colonization that early settlers considered a frontier to be an imaginary line beyond which there were no inhabitants and no form of civilization. So true, and yet, so wrong. In the United States, there were, beyond that imaginary line, Native American tribes who had their own history, traditions, resources, religion, and way of life.
I think of that imaginary line as my husband and I have entered retirement. It would seem there is another imaginary line that is a demarcation for retirement or for having reached that magic number, 65. What we all thought of as a hard-earned time for leisure (at last!) our society sees as a time when all productivity stops. We no longer join the throngs marching off to work every day, meeting deadlines, fulfilling quotas, and accomplishing the tasks for which we were trained and for which we were paid.
Like the frontier concept, this, too, is a skewed perception. If retirement means we are no longer productive members of society, it would suggest that our value was entirely in our employment and much less in our personhood.
We spend most of our lives racing to that magical number 65. However, this is by no means the end of our journey. It is merely a bend in the road; for some of us, it is a blind curve. We may not be able to see or perceive all that retirement holds for us, but those of us who are arrived are deeply grateful to have made it this far.
Looking back, we remember those who didn’t. The road ended too soon. Some approach this bend in the road alone, having lost spouses and children along the way. Some come financially secure, and some with little to show for so many years of labor. Some come strong and able, others at least reasonably healthy, and some come totally debilitated by poor health.
I have been writing to you about claiming your Promised Land. Some of you have questioned if now being retired or at least within sight of it, isn’t it a little too late for great endeavors?
I’m going to say no. No matter how the world perceives our biological age, God is no respecter of such limitations
. Moses lived to be 120 years old. God called him at the age of 80. He spent the last 1/3 of his life leading the Israelites out of Egypt and to the brink of the Promised Land. He was the greatest prophet who ever lived. His successor, Joshua, lived to be 110, but he also was 80 when God began to use him to lead the people into the Promised Land.
Yes, they lived longer in the Old Testament. By the New Testament, the average life span was only 55. The average life span for us today is 80, although I have observed many of my peers are active into their 80s and even into their 90s. If you knew you were going to live to be 90, 60 would still leave you 1/3 of your life left to live, and look what Moses accomplished in that last 1/3 of his life!
I have thought this week of Anna. Her story, like so many women’s stories in the Bible, is only briefly told in Luke 2:36-37
Following the birth of Jesus, Mary had to present herself at the Temple with a purification sacrifice. I can see this young couple approaching the entrance to the Temple, Mary holding Jesus close in her arms as she crosses to the Women’s Court.
Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple that day. In fact, she could be found in the Temple almost every day for the past sixty-some-odd years. Anna’s husband died after only seven years of marriage. She spent the rest of her life as a widow. We might imagine that she loved him so well she could not contemplate another, or perhaps the marriage was not a happy one. She chose to continue on her own, as many women today do, whether by choice or by circumstance.
She devoted herself and her life to God. Verse 37 tells us she never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. Imagine over sixty years of prayer and worship and little else.
Now when Joseph and Mary entered the Temple, they first encountered Simeon. Luke 2: 25-31
25 At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him 26 and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,Luke 2:25-32 NLT
29 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised.30 I have seen your salvation,31 which you have prepared for all people. 32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
Simeon was led to be in the Temple that day, unlike Anna who was there continually. Anna too, had seen them enter the Temple. She came alongside them just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph. She heard this wonderful proclamation, and she began praising God.
She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
Most translations refer to her as a prophetess and give her the distinction of being the first to broadcast the news the Messiah has been born. This moment earned her a place in history and was the greatest blessing of her life. To a woman, God gave this honor.
Her whole life was spent in quiet service, prayer, and fasting. But God saved the best for last for her, a purpose and a place in Biblical history. So many women remain anonymous and unnamed in the Bible, but God ensured her name is known.
We want to think our lives would amount to more than one momentous encounter. But what is more important to us today is to realize God did indeed save the best for last, and there may yet be things God has reserved for you!
We are never too old and it is never too late for new adventures in the life of a believer.
We may yet be the generation to see the final prophecies fulfilled. We may yet have a profound impact on the life of another.
As long as you breathe, your life matters and you can be productive in ways you could not have been in your younger and busier years. God may still have a profoundly important assignment in store for you.
I would also point you to Naomi in the Old Testament book of Ruth. She and her husband left Bethlehem during a famine and went to live among Israel’s enemies, the Moabites. While there, her two sons married Moabite women. Her husband and both her sons died.
Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth returned to Bethlehem, but Naomi returned, telling everyone to call her Marah, which meant bitter. She thought her life was over, and there was nothing left to look forward to, but then Ruth married Boaz, and they had a son.
Naomi had a new family and grandchildren to care for, just when she thought there was nothing left for her.
My daughter pointed out to me that Naomi had to get up and move before God could give her a new purpose in her life. Anna did not move, but she made herself fully available to God. Ruth also made herself fully available to God when she followed Naomi to Bethlehem.
You may be wondering what possible purpose God has for your life now. Is there a move you need to make, or perhaps it’s time for you to make yourself more available to God and to those around you? In any case, I hope this gives you something to think about and, most certainly, something to pray about! You are never too old, and it is never too late to be used by God for something extraordinary.
Why Doesn’t God Just Heal Me
If you like what you’ve seen here, please consider picking up a copy of my book
Why Doesn’t God Just Heal Me – available on Amazon.com
ebook, paperback, and Audible
Having endured an undiagnosed illness for thirty years, I prayed daily for healing and diligently searched the Bible to answer the questions we all ask when faith does not seem to be enough.
With a comprehensive and balanced application of scripture, I address the topic of healing and answer the questions that test our faith.