My weekend didn’t start out so great. Going to visit our worship leader and his wife in the hospital after they’d just had a little baby girl, I was checking at the front desk for the room number. The kind older lady at the computer smiles at me and my wife and says: “Oh, are you the grandparents?” I think my jaw hitting the ground was the lady’s first indication that maybe she had made a mistake.
Now, being forty…something….I know that mathematically I’m old enough to be a grandparent. Our oldest daughter is in college now. I’m slowly coming to grips with that. But still, I’m not ready to be “gramps” just yet.
That’s why this weekend ended up being a really good one; not just for me for the forty-ish crowd world-wide. First, my “old” buddy Jeff Gordon pulled off another win, his second this season and 84th of his career. He’s now tied for third on NASCAR’s all-time win list. As a fan of the 24 team, I’m always glad to see them in victory lane, especially since those wins haven’t come as often as they used to. But now, with Gordon turning 40 in August, they are especially sweet.
The sport is always focusing on the “young guns,” and in some sense rightfully so. These young punks….er, young drivers come into the sport with so many advantages these days, and they begin winning right away. They certainly deserve some attention. But like in every area of life, it seems, we tend to worship youth, and it’s always nice to see the “old” guys take one.
Likewise, last night we saw the “old guys” in the NBA take the championship. The Dallas Mavericks, with an average player age of 33, are one of the oldest teams in the NBA and were considered underdogs going into the Finals against the hot shot trio of the Miami Heat: Dwayne Wade, Lebron James and Chris Bosh. The NBA considers the “average” team to have an “average” age of less than 30. The Mavericks had a starting point guard, Jason Kidd, who is 38; the oldest starting point guard in a Finals game, and the oldest player next to legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to ever win a Finals.
Again, in a sport that worships youth (with players being drafted right out of high school these days instead of after a proven college career), it’s nice to see the old guys “school” them a bit.
Of course, this is nothing new. Youth and beauty have always been worshipped by sinful men, and our society has brought that to new levels in many ways. And yet, a biblical worldview reminds us that age and wisdom are often to be preferred.
Of course there are some extreme examples in Scripture: Abraham was just a bit older than average when his son was born. Most folks don’t live to be over 120 as many in the Old Testament did. We can talk about Moses being 80 years old when he led God’s people out of Egypt and the 85 year old Caleb claiming he was just as strong then as the day Moses first sent him out to spy the land, so let him “take this hill.” Those may seem extreme to us today.
And yet, while we don’t see many 85 year olds leading troops into battle, it’s not so much the exact age as the time of life. They lived to be 120, so these guys were in the last third of their life. For us that may be more like 50s or possibly 60s. The point being, we often look at that age as being ready for retirement, when God sees it as time to get busy. God sees these later years as a time to be serving Him, discipling the next generation, putting those years of growth and service in the Kingdom to good use.
Maybe being mid-40s has given me a new perspective on things; maybe be asked if I was a grandparent has made me defensive. But the truth is, God doesn’t see getting older as a reason to send folks out to pasture. He sees 40 or 50 years of life as just preparing us to begin accomplishing the task He put us here for. It took 40 years in Egypt and another 40 years in the desert for God to make Moses the kind of man he needed to be in order to do what God wanted him to do. Wisdom and maturity don’t spring up overnight.
The Mavs give credit to their “veteran” point guard for his leadership and poise in helping them win a championship. Gordon’s post race interview this weekend spoke of his “experience” helping him to win at Pocono. Maybe the rest of us ought to start remembering some of those things and looking to our “elders” as inspiration and fountains of wisdom to learn from. And maybe the “older” folks need to stop spending so much time looking forward to retirement, and asking God where the next hill is to conquer.
So let’s hear it for the old guys. Maybe God’s not quite through with you (or me) just yet.