BEFORE YOU ARE STRICKEN IN AGE…!!!
by Joseph Ajala
One thing that goes up but never comes down is our age. The time we spend here on earth is a divine allocation for us to live out God’s purpose for our life, which will correctly position us in eternity. This time space is different for every individual. While some have lived to a ripe old age, others have not been so blessed with length of days. What is important however is not how long we live on earth, but whether we have fulfilled God’s purpose in granting us our allocation of time on earth.
It is therefore imperative that we keep an eye on God’s purpose and assignment for our life instead of a frivolous pursuit of length of days just for the sake of living long. The correct gauge of your age is how far and well you have gone in discovering and fulfilling God’s purpose for your life.
“So, teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalms 90:12)
It is instructive for us to note that the life of our Lord Jesus Christ which has changed the course of humanity forever was packaged into an earthly stay of only 33 years!
May the Lord help us to keep our eyes on this age gauge, so that we would not have run very long in our earthly race, only to end up in regrets and sorrow. Amen.
The Good Old Age
Old age has its natural problems. The aged are usually demobilized with eye sight problems. They are usually unable to get warm, and end up with eventual strength failure. However, your relationship with God does make a lot of difference to the type of old age you will have.
“Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people”. (Gen.]5:8!
Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years and was gathered to his people. David died in a good old age, full of days and riches and honour (1 Chro. 29:28). A life lived in righteousness and peace leads a man to a good old age. Such men are nourished by the Lord, full of honour, riches, wisdom and understanding.
“They shall flourish like a palm tree, they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon… they as the planted of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God and shall still bear fruit in old age. They shall be fresh full of oil or sap and they shall be green and flourishing.” (Ps. 92: 12-14)
They are usually strong even to the end. Listen to Caleb talking about his strength at the age of 85 years:
“… and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. ” (Jos.14:11).
It is only by the grace and mercy of God that this is possible. Only those who have learnt to drink from the fountain of the Most High can experience this. There is an upholding by the invisible and yet invincible hand of God that brings strength out of weakness, and makes this possible.
“Listen to me, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been upheld by me from birth who have been carried from the womb; even to your old age; I am He, And even to your grey hairs I will carry you, and deliver you.” (Is. 46: 3-4).
However, not all old men have such testimonies. Some having spent the prime of their years in the pursuit of vanity or in the service of the devil usually awaken to an old age of sorrow and regrets. They usually have glazed and dimmed eyes, their strength fails them, and all they have to their credit may only be the sons and daughters they beget in their own image.
There is a reason adduced for that kind of life.
“But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.” (lsa. 65:20).
Your relationship with God determines the group to which you belong. If you are unrighteous, the bible declares you are the aged without sense, who like a silly dove mix with people anyhow; like cake unturned. Aliens devour their strength; grey hairs are here and there on their heads but they do not know. They are old but don’t even realize it. You will find them in places not expected of the aged. God declares “woe to them”. They refuse to cry out to the Lord with their hearts. They only wail upon their beds. They assemble together for grain and new wine and they rebel against their God” (Hosea 7:8-14). They are great men with multitude of years who should teach wisdom but they are not wise and they lack understanding (Job 32: 7-9)
Age Has Values
It is by mercy that you have been able to live to be as old as you presently are. You are accountable to God for this. There is no age of uselessness in the Lord. Whether young or old, you are never without an advantage in the Lord.
“The glory of young men is their strength. And the splendour of old men is their grey head;” (Prov.20:29).
Age is an advantage, and it determines ability and service. In Israel, ability to go to war is from twenty years and above. They also may enter to perform service 1n the work of the tabernacle of meeting but at the age of fifty years, they must cease performing this work and shall work no more. They may however minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of meeting, to attend to needs … (Num. 1:3; 8: 24ff) In essence, there is no age of uselessness in the Lord. You may think you have passed the age of fruitfulness and usefulness and as such even laugh at God’s promise like Sarah. But you can be so blessed and continue to be a blessing even 1n old age. David of old declares in Psalm 71:
” … You are my Rock and my fortress; in you 0 Lord I put my trust. You are my trust from my youth; by you I have been upheld from birth. You are He who took me out of’ my mother’s womb. You will not cast me off in the time of old age; you will not forsake me when my strength fails. You have taught me from my youth; And to this day I declare your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grey headed, do not forsake me until I declare your strength to this generation, your power to everyone who is to come …” (Ps. 71:5-9)
So, there is work for you even at old age. Wonderful as this is, there is a warning, some advice, a counsel. Check and keep checking your age gauge before you become stricken in years. It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth. Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end. Remember now your creator in the days of your youth before the difficult days come. So, teach us Lord to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Lord, make us to know our end and what the measure of our days is. Remember your creator before the silver cord is loosed, before the golden bowl is broken, before the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, and before the golden bowl is broken, and before the wheel is broken at the well.
Before You Become Stricken In Years…
“Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the Lord said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed … ” (Josh 13: 1).
You may be thinking here that we want to talk about Joshua of old. NO! God wants to address you. Joshua is dead but you are alive. The story of Joshua was written down on the pages of the holy bible because of you and l. The lessons to be drawn from it are for our exhortation, admonition and comfort. They are to charge every one of us, as a father does his own children.
The word “stricken” in the above quotation is strange. Joshua was old, advanced in years. This should be enough an indication of old age. This should be a common knowledge to Joshua. But the Lord saw beyond just being old. He saw something embedded in between the years which perhaps either Joshua did not know about, or he was pretending not to know. And funny enough, none of those around him, even if they knew, were bold enough to tell him. He appeared to have become an island to himself, refusing to know the true situation about himself, and not caring to ask for the reality. Reality however has two faces. You either face it squarely and early to make amends or it will later face you squarely when it will be too late to make amends. This reality in the case of Joshua was checking the age gauge. He lost sight of the original dimensions of his commission from God.
“From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.” (Josh. 1:4)
What struck Joshua? The years did. We must note that no man will live here on earth forever. As the years come and go, they leave their marks on all of us. Joshua lost track of his age gauge. He lost sight of the divine dimension God had given him at his commissioning. If he had checked, he would have found out how far he was from realising God’s objective for his life and he would have cried out to God for mercy, and a divine strategy to complete his task before the years did an irreparable damage on his life. His achievements fell far below God’s expectation for his life. As you advance in years, some things unpalatable strike you here and there. These are not advantageous to your life but they can be put in check if they are discovered early and faced squarely.
Lessons from Joshua’s Case
The original commission which God gave to Moses which he passed on to Joshua was that every man should be armed before the Lord for battle until the enemies were driven out and the land subdued … then you shall give them the land … as a possession (Num. 32:22, 28- 29). God later Himself commissioned Joshua into this and said to him:
“Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise and go over … for to this people you shall give as a possession the land … ” (Jos.l:2, 6)
He started well until something went wrong. He looked at his achievements to gauge his success instead of checking his age gauge. He was so carried away by the newspaper advertisements by his sycophants, of what he had achieved, that he lost sight of what remained yet undone. Age caught up with him, just as it is gradually catching up with you now. When he woke up, he discovered that there remained yet very much land to be possessed. There was nothing he could do. He was already old and stricken in years.
As a result of this, there was a change in commission by God. In Jos. 13: 7, instead of the original commission of “now therefore arise and go”, it became “now therefore divide this land”. As you can no longer arise and go over, you at least can sit down and divide. Now, note the consequential result of this change: “see, I have divided to you by lots these nations that remain TO BE an inheritance for your tribes … And the Lord your GOD WILL EXPEL them from before you and WILL DRIVE THEM OUT of your sight. So, you SHALL POSSESS their land as the Lord your God promised you … One man of you SHALL CHASE a thousand …” (Jos 23:4,5,10) The achievements that should have become a past perfect tense now became not even present but future: GOD WILL EXPEL, GOD WILL DRIVE OUT, so you SHALL POSSESS when you SHALL CHASE. But for now the lands remain TO BE an inheritance for you! What a pity!
You may be as principled as Plato, as astute as Archimedes and as thorough as Theocritus, all these are good and useful in Christ before you become stricken in years. So, whether you are principled, astute or thorough, you will do well to be checking your age gauge. People may respect you for your physical age. This is respect as a result of external physique. But experience and walking with God, is an internal physique that demands respect even from the physically aged. So, in discipleship, even though there is room for respect for external physical old age, the internally aged out of experience and walk with the Lord, deserve greater respect from all irrespective of external physical age. Note however, that we are neither advocating nor preaching disrespect for the aged in any form.
How Old Are You?
“Then Joseph brought his father Jacob to Pharaoh. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh. How old are you? Pharaoh asked him.” (Gen: 7-8)
This is a strange and an insulting question from Pharaoh, a relatively young man to Jacob, a man old enough to even be a father to him. This question came perhaps from Pharaoh’s observation of Jacob’s haggard physique as compared to his (Pharaoh’s) own father who was most likely of the same age range. How also could one explain this except that he had become stricken in years to the extent that at an age when he should still have been walking around, he had to be carried and set before Pharaoh. Jacob himself confirmed this as he answered Pharaoh’s question:
How old are you? He said:
“The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage” (Gen. 47:7-9).
This was at the age of 130 years. He died at the age of 147 years. Abraham died at the age of 175years; Isaac died at the age of 180years. Let’s peep into the evils that struck him repeatedly until he became stricken in years. After fraudulently collecting Esau’s blessing, he was sent away by his father lsaac. As he was running away, the bible says in Gen. 28:11 that the sun set on him. This sun that set on him, did not rise on him again until after 20 solid years of groping in darkness (Gen 32:31). He himself gave the summary of this one of the days of the years of his pilgrimage:
“There I was! In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from my eyes … and you have changed my wages ten times … ” (Gen. 31 :38-42)
Even after this his longest night of groping in darkness, evil continued to strike him again and again. In Gen. 34:30 he said: “… you have troubled me by making me obnoxious.” In Gen. 35:22, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah and it so caused him pain that he cursed Reuben at last. In Gen. 37:34, he tore his clothes, put sackcloth on and mourned for his son many days. In Gen 42:36, 38 he concluded and rested his case fatally thus: “you have bereaved me… All (these) things are against me… you would bring down my grey hair with sorrow to the grave”.
Why did all this happen to Jacob? Because he made the flesh his arm. The Lord had attempted to help him earlier on in his life Journey by sending him a ladder and Angels to rescue him from this vain path he was traveling. But Jacob refused to climb. He chose to go his own way. Along this way, he was stricken and God’s Programme for his life was delayed. If you decide to shun the Lord and go your own way, even you will see many evil days. This is not a curse. As a man lays his bed, so shall he lie on it.
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