In the span of three days I’ve seen the span of life. From ‘senior-highers’ to seniors, I have been able to travel the path of promise and mortality through the faces of a youth group on Friday night and a senior’s centre on Sunday afternoon.
On Friday, the bustling talk stumbled easily from the bible to Batman and bear attacks. Teenagers can talk a lot to cover up what is going on inside of them, or they can not talk and stay covered that way too.
But sometimes you can see the portal to their souls open up. You see lives filled with promise, hope and ambition. You also see real cares and real fears in search of true security and not the the platitudes they so often see from the adult world.
If someone takes the time to walk through key biblical texts with teens they are extremely smart and have an apprehension of large, significant truths. Youth group should be fun since it’s youth in a group. But if it is biblically thoughtful and faithful, it will also open those spiritual portals into young hearts.
At the other end of the spectrum is the senior’s home and a Sunday afternoon service. As the old hymns sound out in the foyer, the seniors hum and mouth the words or just sway to the melody. Truths long held are refreshed in their memories as they hear those old lyrics. When the request goes out for favourite hymns, the call-back is not only for Christmas traditionals, it’s for ‘the Old Rugged Cross’.
A simple message from a Gospel is offered. There can be no assumptions here. With all religious stripes in attendance, the urgency of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ clearly and succinctly is as needed as ever. So with wit and wisdom a short text is expounded. The seniors are stirred in their faith, if Christ is their own. Others shuffle off before the message is done. Some show their inattention intentionally. Others are inattentive because they can’t help being so.
After the service the children that have attended are star attractions. Each senior has questions for the kids. They also have their own stories to share of when they were that age, or what their own grandchildren are up to. Some seniors are forgotten. Others are just separated from loved ones.
Discussing biblical themes opens up those portals of the soul in seniors too. One widow shared about her time as a missionary in India and all the hours her husband spent trying to keep an old Jeep running. They shared the gospel there. And then again later on in Ontario in parish ministry. She told me her husband studied at Knox College in Toronto. I mentioned the significance of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ visit to Knox College library where he discovered the writings of BB Warfield. The widow had read Lloyd-Jones and we talked together about the great need for revival in our land. And finally she said that to see revival, we need praying Christians. What a simple and wise description of a disciple of Jesus: ‘a praying Christian’.
So in both of these ministries, the youth group and the senior’s centre, I went to serve, but as usual, I was the one who was blessed. God reminded me of the vigour and enthusiasm of new faith and fresh effort from the youth. But I was also reminded of the seasoned perspective which persevering faith brings. It keeps the main things where they’re supposed to be. Faith in Christ, appeals to God to act for his glory, and finishing well— these are the lessons which I learned from aged saints.
If you are between youth and old age, consider your own need to have your blind-spots exposed and your soul to be expanded. Minister to young and old and enjoy their ministry to you. Remember, we are all interconnected. As Paul said, “the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” (1 Cor 12. 22).