The local church we attend here in Harrisonburg, called Crosslink Community Church, is holding a "Parenting Seminar" this fall, starting this Sunday evening. The lead Pastor has asked me to teach a separate seminar geared to grandparents, as an alternative study, so as not to leave out the older members of the church. It will be an honor to lead this grandparents discussion group--and although I do not consider myself an expert, I do have a few things to say since Nancy and I are the proud grandparents of 18 precious grandchildren.
David prayed "Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength fails. Now also, when I am old and gray headed, O God, do not forsake me." (Psa. 71:9, 18). There is a fear that comes to those who are growing older. The fear of being alone, as expressed here by King David, is a very real concern on the part of those who are advancing in years, especially if they are in poor health. Only the promise of God's presence can bring any measure of comfort to those who are afraid of being alone.
Our culture has a very secular, biased, and un-biblical view of old people. Consider the following seven comparisons between what the world says (our current culture) and what God says in His Word:
1. Our culture says old age is to be dreaded (and people try everything, in vain, to stop it from coming). God says that the elderly are to be honored and respected.
2. Our culture says old people are a burden to society, and of no real value. God says old age is a sign of God's blessing and His goodness, and their lives are of utmost value.
3. Our culture says retirement is a time of leisure, a time to please yourself and do what you want to do. God says our retirement years are to be used wisely, and we should focus on serving the Lord, not ourselves. As a matter of fact, those who are retired have more time to serve God than others.
4. Our culture says the ideas and moral standards of old people are outmoded, and their values are old fashioned. God says the wisdom of the aged is seen in their faithfulness to the Word of God and the moral precepts contained therein.
5. Our culture mocks older people who are not often "sharp" in technology. The Bible says the older generation has a wisdom that comes from life experiences that is more important than modern technology.
6. Our culture says old people ought to be kept separate from the rest of society, in retirement communities and nursing homes. God says there is a great advantage in having grandparents mingle and interact with the younger generation, and that multi-generational ministries in the church are extremely beneficial.
7. Our culture says we should seek counsel and advice from our contemporaries. God says the older men should teach the younger men, and the older women should teach the younger women (Titus 2). King Rehoboam foolishly ignored the counsel of the older men of his kingdom. Some churches, unfortunately, seem to be heading down that same destructive path.
This is going to be an interesting study. In 44 years of pastoral ministry, I have never done a complete study of The Fine Art of Growing Older, the lessons God has in His Word for grandparents, and the role godly grandparents can have both to their families and to the local church. I am looking forward to this challenging assignment.