Old? … Hardly!

by Ralph Tippin

“I can tell you that God is alive because I talked to Him this morning.” ~ Billy Graham (and me, too!)

Ralph And His Youth Group Visit a Nursing Home

One Sunday afternoon, many years ago, I took our youth group from Ancaster Baptist Church to conduct a worship service at a nursing home in Dundas, Ontario. For many of these young people, it was a new and somewhat intimidating experience. Soon, all the worshippers had been rounded up – many in wheelchairs, some tied in so they wouldn’t fall out. I could see a few nodding off to sleep, the privilege of senior years, while we tuned up and prepared to lead the service.

As we began to sing hymns and choruses, accompanied by guitars and piano, everyone came awake. Faces beamed, voices old and young sang the old familiar songs (mostly by memory) with much gusto. The Spirit of the Lord fell on that holy place. The young people sang with great reverence and awe, aware that they were in a crowd of much accumulated history and ageless wisdom. Some gave brief words of testimony. Each was gaining confidence from the encouraging smiles of the listeners. Each message was fresh, honest, and heart-felt. Others read the Scriptures and prayed – simply, clearly, right on.
And then it was over. Nurses appeared to take some patients “home.” Others were led to the dining room nearby for afternoon tea, to which we were invited as well.

The Smiling Senior’s Story

About half-way down the chapel, by the left aisle, I spotted one gentleman yet unattended. His wonderful smile had drawn me to him throughout the service. He had looked up at the young people from time to time, had grinned shyly, and then had returned to reading his Bible. As I sat beside him, I commented that I had watched him, and how love had lit up his face. To this day, I remember the story that 86-year-old told me. I marvel at the compassion of our God and of the faithfulness of a mother. With tears in his eyes and much emotion, he related His-story to me.

When he was a young man, my now 86-year-old friend, had left home to make his way in the world. Eventually, he ended up in the States and got caught up in the illegal alcohol trade. That led him down a pretty slippery slope, but he became fairly wealthy, and content with his comfortable lifestyle.
Whenever he came home to visit, he never let on to his parents what he was doing. He genuinely loved them, and didn’t wish to shame them. Somehow, though, his mother seemed to know something wasn’t right. She always reminded him that God cared for him. She reminded him that she never ceased to pray for him, and that she expected to see him in Heaven one day. No condemnation – just a loving blessing from her heart.

Then, one day, he received the message that his mother had died. He returned for the funeral, greatly saddened and strangely troubled. The day after they had buried her, he walked out to the orchard behind his boyhood home. My new friend, sat under an apple tree, and struggled with his memories.

Then came the surrender! He really didn’t stand a chance. Due to the love, the fervent prayers, and the Words of Life his mother had given him. My friend was aware that he had to give his life to Jesus. He turned from his ways, and gave himself over to the Saviour. Truly repentant, he never went back to his old life; he stayed in Canada, married, had children, and served the Lord. Now, he was 86 years old, but not in spirit. He had become nearly deaf and unable to walk, but was very content and grateful. “And one day, when I go Home,” he said, “I will see my mother. Won’t that be grand!” Amen!

Silas Lamb Ministering To Seniors In His Old Age

Over the years I’ve met several amazing saints who were nearing or passing the century mark. These were folks with rather serious “crown” points built up in Heaven. Silas Lamb was Pastor Emeritus of Ancaster Baptist Church when we worshiped there. His resume included riding the circuit, as much as 50 miles per day by horseback, as a young evangelist. Over sixty years later, he was still preaching, ministering to seniors in retirement homes, conducting funeral services, and writing an autobiography. He was the type of man that when he spoke, everyone listened; the wisdom coming from his mouth could not be bought – only caught in the recesses of the heart.

“Cap” McCluckie Sharing Jesus at Age 100

Another saint, “Cap” McCluckie had spent his life for the Lord pastoring several churches and as a missionary in Africa. He eventually retired and moved to Cambridge and attended King Street Baptist. On his 100th birthday, with a strong, firm voice, he gave an evangelistic sermon, one of the finest I’ve ever heard. He ended it by giving an altar call; four people responded and asked Jesus into their hearts.

In the Kingdom of God, one is never out to pasture. There is always something one can do. Cap didn’t stop; we shouldn’t either. As long as we have breath, we have a call on our lives. I believe Cap lived to 105 before going Home to be with the Lord. “Promoted to glory,” as the Salvation Army says!

C.S. Lewis said, “I have discovered that the people who believe most strongly in the next life do the most good in this one.” People who leave treasures in your heart are God’s way of planting his DNA in your soul. Strong character, majestic nobility, compassionate embrace, encouraging push – these and all other traits that steer us to godliness – these come from friends and acquaintances of all ages. Those with a proven track record, the ones who have lived long and well, who have endured to the end, leave indelible marks to light our way.

“12 But the godly shall flourish like palm trees and grow tall as the cedars of Lebanon.
13 For they are transplanted into the Lord’s own garden and are under his personal care.
14 Even in old age they will still produce fruit and be vital and green.
15 This honors the Lord and exhibits his faithful care. He is my shelter. There is nothing but goodness in him!”
(Psalm 92:12-15 TLB)

Author of this story, “Old?… Hardly!”, Ralph Tippin, with his wife, Barb.

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