It’s no shock that the culture tries to lure us into believing that the last 30 years of life are about focusing on ourselves. However, the Bible speaks in contrast to this mindset and reminds us that we are to have an eternal focus. Paul’s exhortation in Colossians 3:2 is that we are to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things. Popular author and speaker, Frances Chan illustrates this as he explains our life and eternity like a rope. As we consider our own lives and as we minister with people in the second-half, I hope this short teaching will cause us to re-think how to approach the retirement years.
Recently I finished reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. My hunch is that many of you know the story of this Dutch woman who along with her family hid Jews in their home during the Nazi regime. Eventually, she, along with others in her family were arrested and put in prison and later she and her sister were moved to one of Hitler’s concentration camps.
While I gained much from the book, two things stick out that are especially applicable to those of us who care about ministry with boomers and beyond.
First, Corrie was in her 50s when she took on the ministry of hiding Jews and working with the underground against Hitler. She was in her 50s when she was suffering in a concentration camp under horrendous conditions. She was in her 50s when she began speaking to groups about her experiences. She was in her 50s when she established a rehabilitation center for those who had suffered in the war and helped bring them to wholeness. And then she continued on for several decades to travel the world, speaking and writing about the love of Christ and the power of forgiveness. In no way was her life on the downward slide once she hit the age of 50. To the contrary, it may be argued that some of her most powerful ministry occurred in the second half of her life.
Second, Corrie’s story reminds us that there is much to be gleaned from hearing the faith stories of those who have gone before us. As I read, she taught me about suffering and caused me to consider how I might apply her Christ-like attitude towards suffering to the difficult circumstances in my own life. I thought about how to grow in loving the Bible and valuing the words written in it as much as she and her sister, Betsie, did. I pondered how I might pay attention and look and see where God’s hand is showing up in my daily life, just as He showed up for them. The reality is the story has lingered with me even though I’ve finished reading it and it is helping to refine my faith. How many stories reside among those 50+ in your church, in your family, in your neighborhood, or in YOU? Not all the stories are happy and easy to hear but when told they can encourage and challenge others in their faith. If we don’t share those stories – if we don’t give people the forum to tell those stories – then something valuable is lost.
“Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain it to you.” Deuteronomy 32:7
What do you do to ensure that faith stories are shared with others?