The Perspective of an Old Man

NPR radio has been advertising a program which features personal interviews with elderly people. If I understand correctly, they are accepting taped interviews from anyone which may be put on the air if they are interesting enough. That brought back memories of my brother’s interview with Mrs. Flegel in Columbus. And as I thought about her, I couldn’t forget speaking to my grandparents and various people at the nursing homes. One man at the nursing home in Iron Mountain, Michigan, could remember Henry Ford and Thomas Edison giving lectures to students at his school. The fact is that we can learn much from the elderly.

Andy Rupert preaching this message at Lake Med Nursing & Rehab Center

If only we could interview some of the elderly people in the Bible, what riches we would learn from them. Thankfully the Lord has given us a detailed biography of several interesting characters. Jacob’s life is especially interesting. He began life as a heal grabber, swindled his brother from his birthright, and lied his way into receiving his brother’s blessing. But later on, God revealed himself to Jacob and he became a responsible man.

Unfortunately, even after turning to the one true God, Jacob still experienced a number of troubling situations. He was tricked into marrying two women. His wives convinced him to have children by their maid servants. His daughter was raped. His sons took revenge and killed all the men in the city. His sons sold Joseph into slavery. Another son committed incest with one of his concubines. What a terrible life!

But is that the way Jacob remembered it? Yes and no. On the grand occasion that Jacob was introduced to Egypt’s Pharaoh, 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. 47:9). But later on, after being reunited with Joseph and seeing God’s provision in the land of Egypt, Jacob’s perspective of life changed a bit. As he blessed Joseph’s two sons, Jacob remembered how good God had been to him.

God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,
The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the lads;
Let my name be named upon them,
And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

Genesis 48:15-16

Although Jacob had experienced much sin and sadness, he also recognized that God had been with him all the while. That truly is the mark of a man whose life has been changed by God. He doesn’t hold onto bitterness about the past, but recognizes how good God has been through the good and bad experiences of life. Hopefully, each of us will have the same perspective when we have become elderly.

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