Psalm 71:5, 9 - You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Do not forsake me in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.
Grandma use to say with a German accent, "Wie get too soon oldt und too late schmart!" When we are in are 20s and 30s, we are invincible. If there is any potential need for a mid-course correction, there is plenty of time left. No problem. Then 50 rolls around, and the roller coaster of life accelerates. We fly around the curve and dip into the tunnel, exploding on the other side with squealing brakes haltingly sliding into our 60s. The golden age of retirement yawns wide before us. It can't be. I'm not ready for retirement, much less the grave! But when death seizes our parents along with our older brothers, uncles, aunts, and cousins, we realize that in the pecking order of life, our number can't be very far away. Now we begin to reflect in earnest about our legacy, all our relationships with family, work and society. We cogitate, we ruminate on all the good we think we've done, all the good we dreamed of doing, and all the good that never got done. We wonder how we'll be remembered in obituary prose.
The psalmist looks at life from another angle. He praises the Lord for His constant salvation: "My rock and my fortress! Do not forsake me!" He hopes with certainty that even through great and severe troubles, God shall revive him once again. From his mother's womb the Lord drew him into the light of day. From his youth up, the Lord has been his trust. Now in his old age, he has one last request: "O Lord, when old age saps my strength, forsake me not!" Here is the making of the greatest legacy a Christian can leave on earth: to be known by others as one who continually trusted in the Lord in good days and bad, in sunshine and storm, in the beginning and end of life. "This is the work of God," Jesus said, "Believe on Him whom God has sent" (John 6:29b). Christ is the main work. From Him flows our legacy, our works, our career, our life measured out in days of pain and sorrow, joy and hope, strength and weakness.
Old age has one main characteristic: weakness. The knees get weak, the back gets weak, the stomach gets weak, joints ache, and muscles atrophy. Old age can be a time of never-ending grumbling and complaining against our Creator. That's exactly where many Christians end up. Or—old age can be the dawn of a glorious new attitude toward life. All our life we have trusted in ourselves to get the work done. Though we gave credit to God for our success, our heart reserved a major portion for ourselves. Now in old age, with strength slowly ebbing from our earthly body, we have only one plea left: "Dear Lord, forsake me not in my old age! Let my legacy be that I trusted You until my very last breath."
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, let me learn today before gray hairs adorn my head that trusting in You for all things is the greatest legacy I can leave to my family, my spouse, and my children. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Mark Schreiber.