(An excerpt from a sermon I preached on Senior Adult Day, May 4, 2014 at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church, Centennial, CO. The text is from Hebrews 12:1-2. You can listen to the entire sermon here.)
“Run with endurance the race set before us.” From talking to many of you who are seniors, one of the main frustrations you have is not being able to do what you used to do. As one of you told me this past week, the sin that you struggle with is mostly in your thought life. Frustration, despondency, value.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, we find a book that was written by Solomon in his old age. In chapter 12, Solomon begins, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them’; before the sun and light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain.” So in this season of life, don’t forget about your Maker and your Savior. Why? Because many, many physical trials accompany this time of life.
Look at the metaphors Solomon uses in Ecclesiastes 12:3-4 to depict the physical issues that arise with age:
- Keepers of the house tremble: arms
- Strong men are bent: legs
- Grinders cease because they are few: teeth
- Those who look through the windows are dimmed: eyes
- Doors shut, sound of grinding low: ears
- One rises up at the sound of a bird: sound sleep departs
- Daughters of son are brought low: vocal cords
- Almond tree blossoms: white/grey hair
- Grasshopper drags itself along: not as much hop in the step
- Desire fails: the nature of the intimacy between a husband and wife changes in this season of life.
Each season of our lives have particular issues. As a teen, school work, peer pressure, and finding your way as to who you are and how God made you can certainly derail. As you get older, having a job, having a family, paying bills can derail.
And in this season of life, physical issues along with a number of other things can made one think they cannot run. We often pray for physical needs as well as spiritual. We do know that physical issues can often affect us spiritually. But what does Solomon say? “Remember!” Remember the Creator of your youth, for that Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Though the seasons of life may change, and bring their challenges with them, we can still run the race. How?
We look to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our Faith. Senior adults, this is not a promise for those who have physical stamina. Non-senior adults, this is not a promise for those who have navigated the various seasons of life and possess a wisdom you may not yet have.
Don’t just remember—look! To whom do we look? A present member? A former pastor? A day gone by? Do we look to those for affirmation of how we live, and move, and have our being? Do we look at our sin? Do we look at our difficulties? Do we look to others for our value and identity? Where do we look? To whom do we look?
One older preacher said,
“The cloud of witnesses is not the object on which our heart is fixed. They testify of faith, and we cherish their memory with gratitude, and walk with a firmer step because of the music of their lives. Our eye, however, is fixed, not on many, but on One; not on the army, but the Leader; not on the servants, but the Lord. We see Jesus only, and from Him we derive our true strength, even as He is our light of life.”
When Jesus was at his most vulnerable, most physically spent, what did he do? He endured the cross, despising its shame. It did not matter the stigma that the cross brought, he endured it. And it does not matter what obstacles may be in our lives. When we lay aside our baggage and our bondage, when we run ahead with endurance by looking to Jesus, we do so with one particular emotion leading the way.
Joy! Jesus ran with endurance because of the joy set before him. What was that joy? The joy was accomplishing what the Father sent Him to accomplish. The joy was that after enduring the cross and before He breathed His last He could say, Tetelestai—it is finished! Paid in full! He endured. And the legacy that Christ left us was, because of His death, burial and resurrection, to “go and make disciples.”
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
In talking to many of you who are in the senior adult season of your life, many of you share with me of special seasons in your life: when you came to know the Lord, when you got married (if applicable), when you had children, when you came to this church. You have also shared difficult times: if you’ve lost a child, lost a spouse or a loved one, even ups and downs here at the church—among many others. You have had many more experiences that I have. What kind of legacy do you want to leave? I leave you with three things.
- As those great cloud of witnesses thought about the next generations, so you too must think about the legacy we will leave to the next generation.
- Be aware of the baggage and bondage that weighs you down and keeps you from looking up to Jesus.
- Recognize the nature of the race. Our physical comfort leads to a Great Complacency. When our comfort is first and foremost, we are not running the race—rather, we may be sitting or sprawled out on the track. But the race for us is to look to Jesus and do all we can to get others to look to Jesus.
A. Saphir. Quoted in A.W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, p. 904.