Both of my grandmothers are named Janice. But they don’t just share the same name, they also shared a special friendship. Not all sets of parents of wedded children get along, but Granny and Mommom had been through a lot together. For many years both served as wives of elders in the church, lived in the same neighborhood, sat in many bleachers together, and loved the same grandchildren. Until last week when Granny passed away, I was blessed to have both of them in my life. In fact, with the exception of the last few years, I’ve been unusually blessed to have all of my grandparents living for the majority of my life.
All of my grandparents have taught me things and all of them have lived faithful Christian lives. But Mommom is the last living grandparent that I have left, and though she may feel funny about that (and may even feel conflicted about wanting to go be with Pawpaw like Granny went on to be with Grandad), she is still teaching me things at 31 years of age. Among other lessons in word and deed, I remember her quizzing me at a young age on the contents of each chapter of the book of Acts. But this time she was teaching me with her actions:
In the waning hours of Granny’s life, I was sent a short video of Mommom at Granny’s bedside. In the video, Mommom was joining a few other voices in song in praise to God in an effort to comfort and encourage Granny in her difficult situation. In that moment, I saw a picture of what the Psalmist said of the righteous in that, “They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright…” (Ps. 92:14).
For many years Mommom worked as the church secretary, spoke at Ladies’ Days, counseled young women, drove the elderly to doctor appointments, provided meals for the sick, and labored at the side of Pawpaw while he served as a preacher. But now all of those things are too difficult for her to accomplish given her age and health conditions. Now she is the one who has to be driven to doctor appointments. Now she is the one who needs more help around her home. Now she is the one that deals with the various pains of age.
And one may ask, “what is she now able to accomplish for the Lord – what fruit can she bear?” Not me. If I ever asked that question in the past, I’ll surely never ask it again. In that short video, I saw a righteous woman declare in the face of death (the death of her dear friend, and the same death that had taken her husband of 53 years) that the Lord is upright, that He is good, and that He is her rock (Psalm 92:15). The amount of encouragement, learning, and admonition that I received from that few short seconds of video is immeasurable.
So, what can the elderly do for the Kingdom? More than we could ever calculate.
They can sit and sing at the deathbed of a dear sister in Christ. As righteous ones, they can pray fervently for the needs of others, for the ills of society, and for the leadership of the church – and it WILL make a difference (James 5:16). They can offer sage advice and mentor those that are younger (Proverbs 20:29). And even if they don’t formally mentor someone, they can just be a good friend! They can “stir [others] up [to] love and good works” by using their feeble legs and walkers in simply walking down the aisle of a church building to attend worship (Hebrews 10:24). (It works, I promise!) They can talk to others about what God has done in their life, (Acts 14:27). They can write cards of encouragement, share sweet smiles with loved ones, and hug the preacher after a sermon that fell flat on its face.
There are 1,001 little things that the elderly can do for the Kingdom. But they aren’t little in regard to their impact and benefit of the kingdom. They are just little in the minds of those that are near-sighted and unwise. May God bless our elderly.