I read a tweet (I guess now it is called an “X”) the other day, which made me both smile and think.
I went on a pastoral visit to a lady in her 90’s. I’m 39; the other with me is 45 years old. After visiting for 10 minutes: “You KIDS want a popsicle?” “Yes Please!” Visiting dear saints is my favourite.
Isn’t that great? Sometimes interacting with those much older than us can be a source of great joy. Just when we think we are all grown up, we realise we probably have a long way yet to go. It is therefore a gracious privilege to be in a local church like ours, with such varying ages amongst us. As we interact with those who are much younger, we are reminded of youthful aspirations as well as the unique pressures that they face. We are also encouraged as we remember how the Lord has brought us through those sometime perplexing years and therefore we mentor them encouraging them to persevere. As we give them a “popsicle,” they are strangely warmed by our attentiveness. But equally in reverse, those who are younger bless us as their youthful example, energy, and insights challenge us to do more.
An interesting thing about such interactions is that, to some, we are young “popsicle-lovers” while, to others, we are old and hence the “popsicle-givers.” This age thing is so relative!
To my grandchildren, I am an old man; to my nearly 92-year-old mother, I am still her “little boy” for whom she makes my favourite childhood dessert whenever I visit. And so it is in our church family. To some, we are the “old-timers” while, to others, we have only just begun. We should therefore be continually growing in our appreciation of one another listening to learn from those more experienced while also teaching those who still consider popsicles an essential food group. Again, we will often find ourselves functioning in both categories. Let me illustrate.
A few weeks ago, I spoke with my mom, who told me that she just joined a new ministry in their church, which reaches out to homeless women to provide practical aid and biblical counsel. She is excited about this. She is excited about serving. She is serving in a ministry of her local church long beyond the age when many people argue it is time for them to put their feet up and let the younger one’s do the work. Of course, being my mom, I am prejudiced in my pride, but, regardless, the encouraging testimony stands as a rebuke when I consider my tendency to slothful service. After all, I am an old man in my sixties; I should be slowing down, right? But when I consider my mom, who has thirty years on me, I realise I have no excuse. And so, Mom, thanks for the popsicle of your example. It has refreshed me for further service.
To my younger brothers and sisters, let me encourage you to engage with those of us who are older. I can’t promise you a popsicle, but I can assure you that most of us would love to have a meaningful relationship with you. After all, we can be blessed by you, just as we desire to be a blessing to you. And that is a sweet treat.