Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
I am speaking tomorrow at a chapel service in a senior adult community in Atlanta. I get to do that three or four times a year.
I love doing it and I never turn down the opportunity. The seniors there are so sweet. Several I know from our church and others I've gotten to know over the months when I can be there. Some show up in walkers or wheelchairs; others are brought with their caretakers; still others come in slowly under their own, if diminishing, steam. What always amazes me is that they continue to come––consistently, week by week, to participate in this chapel service.
As much as I love the opportunity, I also struggle to know what to say. I've realized over the past months that what these seniors want, more than anything else, is to hear a word of hope! As I've thought about their need and prayed for guidance, God reminded me of a Bible study I led recently about God's call upon Ezekiel to speak His message to His people (Eze. 2-3). The message God gave Ezekiel wasn't that hopeful on the short-term: He commanded Ezekiel to share with the people of Judah that their disobedience was going to bring them God's judgment and punishment. On the surface, that's not really a hopeful word!
But to that instruction, God provided His servant Ezekiel with the following information:
First, God described those Ezekiel would face as "briers" and "thorns" and "scorpions." I can't imagine Ezekiel being thrilled with the opportunity. Yet, even though the people wouldn't be receptive to His message, God reminded Ezekiel that he only had to obediently repeat the message to them (Eze. 2:6-7).
Second, God showed Ezekiel a scroll that was written on both sides (Eze. 2:9-10). If you've ever seen a scroll in person, you know it's constantly unrolled and rolled to reveal God's scripture. It's impossible to read both sides. Some scholars believe the two-sided scroll symbolized the completeness of God's word, while others suggest that the scroll showed Ezekiel that there was only room in his ministry for God's words, not his own.
Third, God commanded Ezekiel to eat the scroll, the entire scroll, before he went to speak God's message (Eze. 3:1-4). God's instructions were for Ezekiel to consume the scroll, to take God's word internally so that it became a part of his being, to absorb the word completely.
God's message, to me, was clear. Obediently teach His word and keep myself out of His way!
Many of our senior adults are struggling with loneliness, with financial difficulties, with memory loss, with distant children . . . the list goes on and on. One senior adult who was a part of my weekly Bible study struggled with knowing what would happen when he died and went to be with Jesus. He said he was sure of where he was going, but wished he understood what would happen there. His need to know became clear as he struggled with a second round with cancer and passed away a few months later.
Our senior adults desire and need a word of hope that comes from God. I'm going to be speaking tomorrow about Daniel at the age of 80, when he continued to faithfully worship His God. It's a word of hope.
What passages would you or have you used to bring hope to our senior adults? Please share the words that God has pointed out to you and pray for our senior adults that they may cling to God's grace and hope during these years.