O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood,
and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do.
Now that I am old and gray,
do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim your power to this new generation,
your mighty miracles to all who come after me.
(Psalm 71:17-18 NLT)
"It's time to stop the whine."
There, I said it. It's something I've wanted to say to my fellow baby boomers for quite some time. We're already known as a generation of navel-gazers — folks who talk about their feelings and all the ways things should be and could be and used to be without doing much to make them better. We need to stop our hand-wringing and whining about how the world "is going to hell in a handbasket." Instead, let's do something about it. Let's make a difference in the future like we once dreamed we could do. Let's leverage our income, our capabilities, our vitality, our time, and our later life passions to share faith forward.
And yes, I do know that our 401 k plans are a mess with the economy and that we are now the vulnerable group for COVID-19, and many things are uncertain right now. That's the point! In this time of uncertainty, our faith and our focus on future generations have to be our passion.
Go back to the words of Psalm 71 and ask God not to abandon us during this time of uncertainty, death, sheltering in place, and a bad economy.
But, why ask God not to abandon us?
Notice that it is NOT so that we can have a better retirement income and economic security. It is NOT so that we can have good health and a comfortable lifestyle. It IS so that we can proclaim God's power and his mighty acts to the generations who follow us. This implies that we are living in ways that invite God to do mighty acts because we trust him with passionate faith!
For me, one of the saddest verses in all the Bible says:
After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done... (Judges 2:10).
Why had younger generations grown up and not known the great things the LORD had done?
Why had they grown up and not known the LORD?
They didn't know God; they hadn't experienced the LORD's power because their parents and grandparents were busy building their homes, charting their careers, and gaining wealth in their new land. In the middle of building their futures, these older generations had forgotten to risk for the LORD. They didn't live to experience the mighty hand of God in their lives. They settled. They settled into their land, lifestyles, and routines, and quit risking in faith. They deprived their children and grandchildren of what they most needed: God experiences in their day and older adults leading the charge to have them!
If younger generations today are looking for God-experiences and real faith-under-fire courage, let's help these coming generations have them.
Let's invite them to go on a mission with us — start praying and planning now while we are confined.
Let's support them in their passion for serving Jesus in what might be unorthodox and risky ways as life returns to its new normal.
Let's join with them in making a difference in poverty, social inequality, prejudice, the digital divide, hunger, unclean water, human trafficking, street kids, and caring personally for the plight of refugees and displaced people.
Let's follow their example of service and join them in the gritty work of loving the very kind of people Jesus loved.
Let's ask them how we can help them in their passions to serve Jesus in their world.
During this time of social distancing, we need to be praying and planning how we will pass our faith forward when things return to their new rhythms. Because God is the God of new things (Isaiah 42:9, 43:19, 48:6; Jeremiah 31:22), because his mercies are new each morning (Lamentations 3:20-22), how will we show our younger generations that we are ready to live a renewed faith with renewed passion and renewed hope?
I want to make my last third of life matter for the Kingdom of God. I don't want to just mindlessly pray, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." I want that prayer to be my rallying cry as I seek to bring God's Kingdom character and compassion to life in today's world. In all the places I live, travel, and touch, I want to leave a Jesus imprint. More importantly, I want to invite the coming generations to join me in my life, travel, and touch in the name of Jesus. I want to join them, and invite them to join me, and experience God's "mighty miracles" in our day.
I don't want to talk about the "power" and "mighty miracles" of God only in the past tense. I don't want my grandchildren and their generation to hear only about what God did a long time ago. I want them to experience God's power and deliverance in action. I want them to experience the Holy Spirit making them better than they are while they are serving others in the name of Jesus.
To help me keep my focus, I plan to begin my day with the simple prayer from Psalm 71:17-18 we read earlier. At the end of my day, I will pray one of my favorite Bible prayers before I sleep:
LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known...
It's time for those of us who are older to quit demanding that church should be about us, for us, and to please us. We're here today to share faith forward. It's time to stop the whining about church stuff, the coming generations, and what we've lost during the COVID-19 crisis and confinement. Let's start expecting God to do great things with us, through us, and among us. It's time to seek these God moments while inviting future generations to experience the LORD's presence and power with us.
Yes, LORD, we know of the great things you have done in the past, but today, for us and for the generations who come after us, we ask that "in our time make them known"!