Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will be vital and green. Psalm 92:14 (NLT)
Years ago, someone sent me a comment from the famous writer James Michener about what kept him writing well into his old age. Apparently he said: "When I was 45, a farmer living at the end of our lane hammered eight nails into an aging, unproductive apple tree. That autumn a miracle happened. The tired old tree produced a bumper crop of juicy red apples. When I asked how this happened, the farmer explained: 'Hammering the rusty nails gave it a shock to remind it that its job is to produce apples!'"
Michener apparently continued: "In the 1980s when I was nearly eighty, I had some nails hammered into my trunk — heart surgery, vertigo, a new left hip — and like a sensible tree, I resolved to resume bearing fruit."
Nails get driven into all of our lives, especially when we get older. They can cripple us, or they can jolt us into using our maturity and experience to make a significant difference.
This year Stuart had a nail of typhoid fever, and I had a nasty reaction to a typhoid shot that slowed us down a bit. We've also both had one more birthday! That was another jolt!
We didn't stop travelling, but we had a choice to allow these and other hard things in life, that are par for the course, to jolt us into remembering what apple trees are all about. We don't want to be trees that are "nothing but leaves!"
In the middle of this travelling and jolting, Stuart and I have had the opportunity to minister to "seniors." (People like us!) I am told that in the USA soon 50 percent of the population will be over 50. That's a lot of aging trees!
My life's verse has long been Psalm 71:18: "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." (NLT)
Whatever your age, would you say you are gray or green? Why not spend some time in Psalms 71, 90, and 92?
Listen to this: "It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening! You thrill me Lord with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what You have done!" Psalm 92:1,2,4
I have met believers who are young in age, yet old in reality — old before their time. And I have met old people who are the same! Gray! But I also know young and old alike who are fresh and green through the Holy Spirit's life work in their hearts! Yes!
The note at the top of Psalm 92 says: "A song to be sung on the Lord's Day." (Remember, every day is His!) It's a song to prepare our hearts for worship. It's about freshness of spirit and a joy that won't quit and keeps you young at heart. It's about something that keeps us green, even when we're gray! Yes, even to the end of our days, whatever things hurt us!
A practical hint to "refresh" your Scripture reading is to use another translation for a while. These verses are from the New Living Translation, Tyndale House: "How refreshed I am by your power — the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord's own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, the Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in Him." Psalm 92:12-15 (NLT)
The greenness of gray in life's later stage
A freshness of soul that refuses to age,
Is grown in the garden of God in my heart,
It's the fruit of the Spirit as God does His part.
The greenness of gray — a freshness of mind
That proclaims His great power and love for mankind,
A love for the children who don't know His grace,
Gives me purpose and reason to finish this race.
You promised me, Lord, if I am planted in Your garden of grace my world will see the greenness in my life and ministry and be refreshed by the fruit of Your Spirit by the fruit of Your Spirit. Amen.
Thanks for all of you who love us and support Telling the Truth, as we tell it like it is around the world. (You may want to forward this J-Mail to someone!)
There's also an excellent magazine for those of us in the second half of life: Significant Living. It's a great resource. Along with that, you can also listen to my teaching on Psalm 71 on this topic, taken from a summer series on marriage and family that Stuart and I taught on the occasion of our 50th wedding anniversary.
Finally, as always we desire and cherish your prayers for our upcoming itinerary in 2009.
©Copyright 2008 Jill Briscoe