I’d heard him preach and teach before. He’s written books, and his sermons are all over YouTube. He’s not a household name, but he has influence. God has used him.
But the best thing about him isn’t his work. It’s who he is, or rather, who God has made him to be.
Jared Wilson talks about meeting somebody like the man I’m describing, a veteran who seems to keep getting better. “It became very clear that Ray actually knows Jesus. Like, he actually hangs out with him.”
When someone like this is in the room, you can tell, even though you can’t put your finger on it. “The room changed. It got smaller and bigger at the same time. The air seemed to get sweeter, more breathable. I can’t rightly say what happened,” Wilson continues. Sounds strange, even mystical, but it’s exactly what happens when such a person is in the room.
We need more older saints like this.
I’ve met a few in my time. The first was my grandmother, one of the godliest people I’ve met. The second was the widow of a pastor I met while I was in my twenties. She’d lived six decades more than me, and yet I felt like I could hardly keep up to her. She had a zest for life and a love for God. I never left her presence without wanting more of whatever she had.
After her, I didn’t experience that kind of person for a long time, but I think that was my fault. In my mid-20s and 30s, maybe even longer, I valued youth. I wanted those who had bold plans for the future, and who were ready to seize a new day and do new things. I undervalued the old and godly right when I needed them the most.
But I see them now. I see the aged author at the conference who can’t draw a crowd like the new, hip pastors, but who offers something they can’t. I see the saint who keeps showing up, who’s stayed faithful in adversity, who hasn’t allowed cynicism a place to grow, and who exudes love for God and others. When I’m with people like that, I want to be like them.
The older I get, the more I look for the redwoods, not the saplings.
Who do I want to be like when I grow up? These older saints. I have a long way to go, but I pray to God for even a little of what they have.
So I have three suggestions.
One: encourage them. These older saints are humble, so you don’t need to go overboard, but honor them. Let them know that you’re thankful for them. Remind them that God is using them. Most of them don’t know how much they matter, so let them know.
Two: listen to them. Don’t build your church around youth culture. Create a culture that honors the old and godly. Teach the younger people to learn from them.
Three: pray. Maybe one day we can be like them. Ask the Spirit to sanctify you and keep you faithful and tender so you can become just like them.
We need older saints, and I’m grateful for the ones God has given us. May we value them and, with God’s help, become like them.