Wednesday, December 23, 2009

BEARING FRUIT IN OLD AGE -- Devotional for December 22, from "Good Seeds"

The righteous will flourish like the palm tree; they will grow like the cedars of Lebanon. They shall be full of sap and very green, and continue to yield fruit in old age. (Psalm 92:12,14)

In God’s world, all that is healthy grows. This is a rule of life. Furthermore, all that grows produces. Some plants produce fruit; others, flowers – but all healthy plants form and continue to rejuvenate their various parts, whether roots, stems, branches or leaves. Think of an old cherry tree. It may have long since grown to its full height and girth, but every year, according to its God-ordained cycle, and in response to the earth’s seasons and the husbandman’s care, it produces first robust leaves, then beautiful blossoms, and finally the plump and luscious fruit for which it is so loved. The words of a poem about a fruit tree that was quite mature but still healthy go something like this:

Although quite old it’s not quite finished,
Because its root is not diminished.
And just like me and just like you,
It keeps on doing what it was made to do.

And what is true for living things is also true for living beings. Though you and I may have long since reached our “full height and girth,” how do we know we’ve achieved our greatest potential? We must resist the temptation to excuse ourselves from activity or offer the excuse for lack of productivity by saying that we are now “over the hill.” It’s both a tragedy and a travesty to hear people say they’ve put in their years of service and it’s high time the younger set takes over, while they pull out and move away from harsh weather and serious responsibility. They want to retire and travel and live the good life while they still have the health and wealth to do so. “What’s so bad about that?” you ask. Just this: the amassed resources and highly developed skills of mature Christians could be dedicated to God’s kingdom like never before. In their later years they could bear fruit as beautiful and plentiful as any borne by their younger brother and sister fruit-bearers. Longfellow expressed his longing to keep growing and bearing fruit well into his sunset years with these stirring words:

What then, shall we sit idly down and say,
“The night has come, it is no longer day”?
The night has not yet come, we are not quite
Cut off from labor by the failing light.
Something remains for us to do or dare –
Even the oldest trees some fruit may bear.
For Age is opportunity no less
Than Youth itself, though in another dress.
And as the evening twilight fades away,
The night is filled with stars invisible by day.

Today’s culture has been poisoned by the cult of youth: the chic and the sleek; the svelte stars and buff athletes; the smart, successful, and very rich young executives. But God’s beautiful people are not ones to fawn over, but to follow, as they just keep on going, growing, and bearing fruit for Jesus, not caring how they look to anyone but their Heavenly Husbandman.

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