“Remember . . . your Grand Creator.”—ECCL. 12:1.
1, 2. (a) What counsel was Solomon inspired to write to young people? (b) Why is Solomon’s counsel also of interest to Christians in their 50’s and older?
KING SOLOMON was inspired to address young people with the words: “Remember . . . your Grand Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of distress come.” What are “the days of distress”? Solomon used intriguing poetic language to describe the calamitous days of old age—trembling hands, unsteady legs, loss of teeth, dim vision, poor hearing, white hair, and a bent frame. No one should plan on waiting until he arrives at that stage in life before starting to serve Jehovah.—Read Ecclesiastes 12:1-5.
2 Many Christians in their 50’s and older still have plenty of vigor. They may have some gray hair, but likely they do not yet have the frail health described by Solomon. Could these older Christians benefit from the inspired counsel that was addressed to young people: “Remember . . . your Grand Creator”? What does that counsel mean?
3. What is involved in remembering our Grand Creator?
3 Even though we may have been serving Jehovah for many years, it is good for us to stop occasionally and think appreciatively about how grand our Creator is. Is not life awe-inspiring? The complexity of its design is beyond human understanding. Jehovah’s provisions are so rich in variety that we have abundant possibilities for enjoying life. When we contemplate Jehovah’s creation, we renew our appreciation for his love, wisdom, and power. (Ps. 143:5) But remembering our Grand Creator also involves pondering our obligations to him. During such reflective moments, we surely feel resolved to express our gratitude to our Creator by serving him as fully as possible for as long as we live.—Eccl. 12:13.
UNIQUE OPPORTUNITIES LATER IN LIFE
4. What question can Christians with long experience ask themselves, and why?
4 If you have acquired decades of experience as an adult, you have a key question to ask yourself, ‘What will I do with my life now while I still have some energy and strength?’ As an experienced Christian, you have opportunities that are not open to others. You can pass on to younger ones what you have learned from Jehovah. You can strengthen others by relating experiences you have enjoyed while serving God. King David prayed for opportunities to do so. He wrote: “O God, you have taught me from my youth . . . Even when I am old and gray, O God, do not abandon me. Let me tell the next generation about your power and about your mightiness to all those who are to come.”—Ps. 71:17, 18.
5. How can older Christians pass on to others what they have learned?
5 How could you make known the wisdom you have acquired over the years? Could you invite younger servants of God to your home for some upbuilding association? Could you ask them to accompany you in the Christian ministry and show them the joy you experience in serving Jehovah? Elihu of ancient times said: “Let age speak, and let a multitude of years declare wisdom.” (Job 32:7) The apostle Paul urged experienced Christian women to encourage others by word and example. He wrote: “Let the older women be . . . teachers of what is good.”—Titus 2:3.
CONSIDER YOUR POTENTIAL FOR HELPING OTHERS
6. Why should Christians with decades of experience not underestimate their potential?
6 If you are an experienced Christian, you have great potential. Consider what you understand now that you did not know 30 or 40 years ago. You can skillfully apply Bible principles in life. No doubt you have the ability to reach the hearts of others with Bible truth. If you are an elder, you know how to help brothers who take a false step. (Gal. 6:1) Perhaps you have learned how to oversee congregation activities, assembly departments, or Kingdom Hall construction. You may know how to encourage doctors to use health-care strategies that avoid the use of blood. Even if you have only recently learned the truth, you have valuable experience in life. For example, if you have raised children, you will have gained much practical wisdom. Older Christians are a potentially powerful source of encouragement for Jehovah’s people by teaching, leading, and strengthening the brothers and sisters.—Read Job 12:12.
7. What useful training can older Christians provide for younger ones?
7 How could you use your potential more fully? Perhaps you could show younger ones how to start and conduct Bible studies. If you are a sister, could you suggest to young mothers how they might keep up with spiritual activities while caring for small children? If you are a brother, could you teach young brothers to give talks with enthusiasm and to be more effective preachers of the good news? Could you show them how you visit elderly brothers and sisters to encourage them spiritually? Even if you do not have the physical power that you used to have, you have splendid opportunities to train younger ones. God’s Word says: “The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is their gray hair.”—Prov. 20:29.
SERVING WHERE THE NEED IS GREATER
8. What did the apostle Paul do later in life?
8 The apostle Paul used his full potential to serve God later in life. By the time he was released from prison in Rome about 61 C.E., he had endured many years of rigorous missionary service, and he could have settled down to preach in Rome. (2 Cor. 11:23-27) The brothers in that large city would no doubt have valued his continued support. But Paul saw that the need was even greater overseas. With Timothy and Titus, he resumed his missionary activity, traveling to Ephesus, then on to Crete, and probably to Macedonia. (1 Tim. 1:3; Titus 1:5) We do not know if he visited Spain, but he intended to do so.—Rom. 15:24, 28.
9. When may Peter have moved to serve where the need was greater? (See opening image.)
9 The apostle Peter may have been over 50 when he moved to where the need was greater. Why may that be true? If he was about the same age as Jesus or perhaps somewhat older, he would have been about 50 years old when he met with the other apostles in Jerusalem in the year 49 C.E. (Acts 15:7) Some time after that meeting, Peter went to live in Babylon, doubtless to preach to the large population of Jews in that area. (Gal. 2:9) He was residing there when he wrote his first inspired letter, about 62 C.E. (1 Pet. 5:13) Settling in a foreign land can be challenging, but Peter did not allow the fact that he was advancing in age to rob him of the joy of serving Jehovah fully.
10, 11. Relate an experience about someone who later in life moved to serve where the need is greater.
10 Today, many Christians in their 50’s and older find that their circumstances have changed and that they are able to serve Jehovah in new ways. Some have moved to where the need is greater. For example, Robert writes: “My wife and I were in our mid-50’s when we realized what opportunities lay before us. Our only son had left home, we no longer had aging parents needing care, and we had received a small inheritance. I calculated that the sale of our house would suffice to pay off the mortgage and provide for us until I received income from my retirement pension. We heard that in Bolivia the number of people accepting Bible studies is high but the cost of living is low. So we decided to move. Adapting to our new home was not easy. Everything was so different from what we were accustomed to in North America. But our efforts were well rewarded.”
11 Robert adds: “Our whole life now revolves around congregation activities. Some of the people with whom we studied the Bible got baptized. One family we studied with lives in humble circumstances in a village several miles away. But each week, the members of that family make the difficult journey into town for the meetings. Can you imagine our joy at seeing the family’s progress and the eldest boy even taking up the pioneer service?”
THE NEED IN FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FIELDS
12, 13. Relate an experience about a Christian who began serving Jehovah in new ways after reaching retirement age.
12 Foreign-language congregations and groups can benefit greatly from the example of older brothers and sisters. Also, such territory can be very enjoyable to work. For example, Brian writes: “My wife and I experienced a lull in life when I reached the British retirement age of 65. Our children had left home, and we rarely found interested people with whom we could conduct Bible studies. Then I met a young Chinese man who was doing research at the local university. He accepted an invitation to our meeting, and I started studying the Bible with him. After a few weeks, he began bringing a Chinese colleague with him. Two weeks later, he brought a third, and then a fourth.
13 “About the time a fifth Chinese researcher asked for a Bible study, I thought, ‘Just because I am 65 does not mean that I should retire from Jehovah’s service.’ So I asked my wife, who is two years younger than I am, if she would like to learn Chinese. We used a recorded language course. That was ten years ago. Preaching in a foreign-language field made us feel young again. So far, we have studied the Bible with 112 Chinese people! Most of them have attended meetings. One of them now serves with us as a pioneer.”
ENJOY DOING WHAT YOU CAN
14. About what can older Christians be happy, and how is Paul’s example encouraging to them?
14 Although many Christians in their 50’s have fine opportunities to do new things in Jehovah’s service, not all can. Some of them have poor health, and others care for aging parents or dependent children. You can be happy in the knowledge that Jehovah appreciates whatever you do in his service. So rather than be frustrated by what you cannot do, enjoy what you can do. Consider the apostle Paul’s example. For years, he was under house arrest, unable to continue his missionary travels. But whenever people visited him, he spoke to them about the Scriptures and strengthened them in the faith.—Acts 28:16, 30, 31.
15. Why are elderly Christians highly valued?
15 Jehovah also appreciates what elderly ones can do in his service. Although Solomon pointed out that the distressing days of frail health are not the best stage of life, Jehovah values what elderly Christians can accomplish in praising him. (Luke 21:2-4) Congregations appreciate the faithful example of the long-time servants in their midst.
16. What privileges was elderly Anna not likely able to enjoy, but what could she do to worship God?
16 The Bible reports that an elderly woman named Anna continued faithfully praising Jehovah into her old age. She was an 84-year-old widow when Jesus was born. Likely, she did not live long enough to become a follower of Jesus, to be anointed with holy spirit, or to enjoy preaching the good news of the Kingdom. Yet, what Anna could do, she enjoyed doing. “She was never missing from the temple, rendering sacred service night and day.” (Luke 2:36, 37) As the priest offered incense in the temple each morning and evening, Anna would be with the assembled crowd in the courtyard offering silent prayer for perhaps half an hour. When she saw the baby Jesus, she began “speaking about the child to all who were waiting for Jerusalem’s deliverance.”—Luke 2:38.
17. How might we be able to help elderly and infirm Christians to share in true worship?
17 Today, we should be alert to help elderly or infirm Christians. Some who would dearly love to be at congregation meetings and assemblies may rarely be able to do so. In some places, congregations lovingly arrange for such elderly ones to listen to the meetings by telephone. In other places, this may not be possible. Even so, Christians who cannot attend meetings can share in supporting true worship. For example, their prayers contribute to the success of the Christian congregation.—Read Psalm 92:13, 14.
18, 19. (a) Why might older Christians not realize how much they encourage others? (b) Who can apply the counsel: “Remember . . . your Grand Creator”?
18 Elderly Christians may not realize how much they encourage others. For example, although Anna was faithful all those years at the temple, she probably did not realize that centuries later her example would still encourage others. Anna’s love for Jehovah was recorded in the Scriptures. No doubt your love for God is recorded in the hearts of fellow worshippers. No wonder God’s Word says: “Gray hair is a crown of beauty when it is found in the way of righteousness”!—Prov. 16:31.
19 There are limits to what all of us can do in Jehovah’s service. But let those of us who still have some strength and vigor take to heart the inspired words: “Remember . . . your Grand Creator . . . before the days of distress come.”—Eccl. 12:1.