It’s graduation season. And that means lots of really great speeches about reaching for the stars and following your dreams. Usually, these well wishes are given to people fresh out of high school or in their mid to late twenties.
Dale and I just graduated with Master of Divinity degrees. We currently fit into the typical age range of people being told that exciting things are ahead and that God has only begun to use us. For us, it’s great! We’re honored, we’re excited, and we’re most definitely ready to see what the next chapter looks like.
But we aren’t the only ones God is leading into something new. He doesn’t reserve the new for the young (and it’s debatable as to whether or not we are still young). God is paving new paths and journeys for his people in every stage of life.
We graduated alongside of one of our colleagues and heroes, who earned her Master’s Degree in Christian Ministry and Leadership. She has the life experience of raising six children, going through far more pain and heartache than I can relate to, and being one of the most resilient and loving women I know.
Some might say that she’s an exception to the rule of God forging new paths and dreams. But I strongly disagree. She’s not the exception. She continues to allow God to shake up her world in the most terrifying of ways.
God doesn’t leave the risk of dreaming and forging new life for the young. He doesn’t look at our lives and say, “Okay, you’re now at an age where I no longer need to call you into the hard, the risky, and the fearful. I will keep that for the young.” No. In fact, the Bible shows us a far different picture. We see story after story of people who are no spring chickens being called to lay down their comfort, their nest eggs, their daily routine, and life as they know it to serve him.
Whether you’re young or old, God isn’t done calling you to lay down your life for him. Here are three reasons why we can expect God to call us into something new regardless of our age.
1. Radical faithfulness isn’t just a young person’s game.
Taking big risks in pursuit of greater faithfulness seems like a far easier lesson for young people to come to terms with, mainly because we’re told over and over again that we still have a long way to go. But the truth is we never become so mature in life that we can decidedly say we’ve arrived.
Paul, one of the men who could probably say he arrived in his spiritual maturity and fulfilling the calling of God said this.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
Whether we’re 16 or 75, our resilience for pressing on to what God has called us should remain the same. We should never sit back in our rocking chairs drinking sweet tea and thinking that our work here is done. We must press forward.
Keep moving in the direction God has called you toward. No matter how hard, tiring, or risky it might be.
2. God can use you in a way now that he couldn’t use you before.
The reality is God can use my friend in a way he could never use me. She has experience and wisdom that I have yet to uncover. Her reality of raising six children comes with age and that’s a road I’m only just beginning to journey down. I can glean from her and the many other women who have gone before me.
In the book of Titus, Paul talks about older women living a life that’s worthy of teaching younger women. This isn’t to say that you know everything and that younger ones need to listen to everything you say just because you’re older. Being mature in age doesn’t instantly provide credibility. It’s the way you live your life.
As we get older, God uses us in ways he could have never used us before. I am sure people in their sixties can attest to being used in ways they could have never imagined being used in their thirties. The turning over of seasons happens again and again because God continues to use us in new ways. In ways he could have never used us before.
Your age should never be used as a pass to belittle and condemn another generation, but it should be used to build up and encourage. Your age should be a reason God can use you in a new way.
3. God is not done calling you.
Moses was 80 years old when God called him to rescue his people from Egypt. He was 40 years old when he fled Egypt out of fear of being killed himself. Then he spent another 40 years trying to recover from his past. It was at the young age of 80 that God called him into something new. Into something he was uncomfortable with. Into leaving the life that he knew.
Abraham was 75 years old when God called him to pick up his family and move to a new land. Abraham didn’t even know where he was going. He had a good life. But he left his established life to do something crazy. To follow God into the unknown. Abraham was even older when the promise of God came to pass. I’m sure he thought he was done doing new and adventurous things far before 75.
God is never done calling us into something new. He’s never done using us for his kingdom.
“They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green…” (Psalm 92:14)
This is how the psalmist describes God using righteous people in their old age – as people who bear fruit.
We should never become so complacent and comfortable in life that we assume God has fulfilled his mission in us. Our mission isn’t done until the day we look upon the face of our Savior.
The words of my childhood pastor still ring true in my mind today. “Christians don’t retire from the work of God.”
If God can use you in spite of the stain filled past you lived, what makes you think he can’t use you in spite of your age – young or old. That’s the promise. If we continue to live our lives surrendered to his will, then he’ll never be done with you. He’ll never be done using you for his glory. That’s the life we should want to live from beginning to end. A life lived for his glory.