Society has a certain fascination with old things. Oftentimes, the older an item is, the higher its worth. Take classic automoblies for example - they are decades old and sport none of the most sought after convenient trappings. Yet they are ogled over when seen on the road. And what about antique anything? In my book, "antique" is a synonym of very expensive! Old baseball cards of famous players are worth a fortune. And don't forget the writings of Shakespeare and Dickens that have been taught in classrooms for decades.
What is it that makes a worn, weather-beaten book full of dust and crinkled pages so enchanting? Why is it worth more to a family to have great-grandma's dining room table refinished than to buy a brand new one from Pottery Barn? I submit to you that it is the very fact of being old that makes an item worthy of attention. It has survived the test of time and "lives" to tell the story.
However, the craze over old items ends when you start talking about old people. Here in America, where we're known for prizing time, money, convenience, and business profitabilty, old people rate very low to us on the scale of worthiness. This is an incredible mistake, a significant loss to our society.
I was reminded of this great falacy during our new building dedication at our church. As part of the service, the history of the church was told by video interviews of the founding members and pastors. Hearing their pieces of the history gave me a fresh appreciation for their lives and wisdom present among us. By their prayers and sacrificed time, the church I now enjoy was formed. It was they who taught the children to fear God and obey Him; now those children are the pastors and teachers whose words God is using to change my heart.
I am just beginning to understand what it meant for the Israelites to worship the God of their forefathers - of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; what it meant to hear the old, old stories of crossing the Red Sea, or conquering Jericho; why the apostles quoted the teaching of the prophets. These were the men and women who had gone before them, whom God had used, despite their failings, to accomplish His purpose. These, like the elderly in our congregaton today, were the people who had experienced the joys and frustrations of life, and through it all clung to God as their only hope.
And that perseverance seen in a life well lived is worth noticing and worth following. For it is not just that a person has lived to be eighty years old, but that they have walked with God for so many of those years. It is the righteousness that God has wrought in their hearts and lives that is worth noticing.
And that is what I should value.