Age: Neither a Qualifier Nor a Disqualifier
On my library shelves, there are some old books, now disintegrating into dust, one commentary on the Life of Christ more than two hundred years old. Among my prizes are an early edition of In His Steps, What Would Jesus Do (1897) by Charles Sheldon, a very old volume of the collected works of John Bunyan, (the date of publishing long since gone as are the book’s covers) and an English version of the Polyglot Bible, signed by its steward in 1886.
Some old things are valued. But frankly, sometimes they are not.
There were times in Abraham’s life when he seemed to believe that life was passing him by—he was too old!
Specifically too old to have a child—to produce something of value to the next generation and the generations after that one.
Genesis 17 describes Abraham’s conversation with God on the subject of being old.
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said…” (Genesis 17:1).
I need to pause here because there is a tremendous statement of value in these words. Abram’s age was no barrier to God and the Almighty valued the communion and the relationship with this "old" man.
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty; walk with me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers…you will be the father of many nations…The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you are your descendants after you; and I will be their God’” (17:1-8).
Apparently Abram (now Abraham) laughed at this (17:17). He was too old, and his wife was too old. He didn’t tell God why He was laughing, but God knew, and confirmed again that, though humanly speaking too old, God doesn’t consider those minor details to be obstacles to the fulfillment of His divine plan. Sarah would have the son God promised.
When Paul wrote to the Philippian church, he began his letter with this: “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ” (1:6).
No miracle babies were expected, but there is a truth here that applied as much to Abraham and Sarah as it does to us.
Whatever value may be assigned to us by those around us (or lack thereof), God places great value on us—so much so that He promised that His plan for us will be completed regardless of the obstacles (real or imaginary) that are placed in our path—don't laugh! We often think of value in terms of fame, fortune or productivity. But God puts a much higher value on other things. Paul continues his prayer for the Philippians this way: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God” (1:9-11).
Abraham (and Sarah) had lost the God-perspective of their lives, and perhaps as a result, the edge on their faith. They had value to God, but not because they were young and able to bear children. Old and unable to bear children was not a problem with God—He could take care of that. But what He wouldn’t do, what only they could do, was align themselves with His purposes for their lives and be faithful to Him.
Paul’s prayer for the Philippians bears the same stamp. God will complete the work. Be like Jesus, the apostle writes in Philippians 2 and God will do what He wants to do in you, and with you, “according to his good purpose” (2:13).
Age neither qualifies nor disqualifies. But faithfulness, or the lack thereof, will.