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Serving in the Older Years

When my husband Joe and I moved to Florida in 1991 and joined a church there, an older gentleman in the church made a remark regarding serving which really took me aback. When asked to do some little service task, he turned it down, saying he had paid his dues! I was astounded that someone who had been a loyal church member and one who had served for many years could feel that way. My thinking was “How can you ever believe that – no one can out-give God.”

Sometimes our words can jump up and hit us later. When I left Florida to return to Indiana, my first priority was to find a church where I could be a part of the family and also serve. However, I made the remark that I had no intention of teaching children again. I’d been there, done that! (Is that so different from saying I’ve paid my dues?)

Obviously God’s plans for me were different than what I had in mind. Through a series of circumstances I wound up teaching the 1st and 2nd grade Sunday school class a few months after coming to New Hope and have been doing so ever since. And what a joy it has been.

Even though I have had two children of my own, I’ve never considered myself as being in tune with young children. However, I’ve found that God doesn’t push you toward a task without giving you the tools to work with. One benefit of being retired is that I have plenty of time to prepare each week. A big blessing of teaching children is that it has made me much more focused in reading the Bible. Of course, it’s a challenge; and some days go better than others. Probably the biggest drawback is that my energy level isn’t what it once was. Most Sundays I go home and take a nap.

Growing out of teaching the Sunday school class has given me the opportunity to participate in Vacation Bible School. Seeing the excitement and enthusiasm of this large group of children as they worship and learn about God is a reward in and of itself. Of course, just as on Sundays I have to go home and take a nap after each session.

I’ve had the privilege of teaching three of the Jankowski children as well as four of the Thompson children in Sunday school. They both have another one who will be in 1st grade four years from now. That gives me motivation to keep on until I’m almost 90 so I can make a full sweep.

To give me an opportunity to be among adults I’ve been a part of New Hope Helpers. However, when first joining the group I made it quite clear that I would be willing to serve meals but don’t ask me to cook. That was never one of my better talents, and I’m completely out of practice now.

The Bible gives us many examples of women who made an impact in their older years. Hannah not only had a baby in her old age but promised that he would serve the Lord. (I Samuel 1:27-28.) After becoming a widow, Naomi returned to Judah and encouraged her daughter-in-law Ruth who was also a widow in seeking another husband which resulted in Ruth becoming a part of the genealogy of Jesus (Ruth 1-4). Elizabeth became the mother of John the Baptist in her old age and recognized that her cousin Mary would be the mother of the Messiah (Luke 1:41-45). The Bible tells us that the prophetess Anna, after becoming a widow, served in the temple from then on and was there at age 84 when Jesus was first presented. At that time she thanked God and spoke to others about Him (Luke 2:36-38).

All this is to say that as we age God still has plans for us. We may not quite understand where He is leading us, but we need to trust Him at all times in all things.

Maggie Vail