Prayer of Maturity

By: Dr. Michael Easley; ©2013
From Psalm 71 I want you to discover “The Reality of Aging,” “The Richness of Aging,” “The Resources of Aging,” and the “Rewards of Aging.”

 

Prayer of Maturity

When we are young we have no experience; when we are old no one wants our experience. My retirement plan will probably be a Wal-Mart vest that says, “Welcome to Wal-Mart.” Because once you get to a certain point, people just don’t want or need you anymore. Celebrated television shows are written by the extremely young. Reality TV, MTV, any iteration of Survivor or American Idol and so forth are all written by 20-something producers. By the way, when I hear the words American Idol, I always have to check myself. And my children have loved to watch it, and I go, “It’s idolatry. Don’t you get it? It’s idolatry.” And they go, “Oh, dad!” and I walk away and they watch it.

And as we adapt for the older audience we are given all kinds of wonderful ads for our incontinence. Fred Thompson and Robert Wagner selling us reverse mortgages. Other prescription pills I will not mention the efficacy of. And our favorite, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” ad. She is really good at hair in that ad. I can’t ever figure that out.

But Scripture has a very different perspective on getting older. Some in this room are in your 20s and 30s and you can take a nap if you want or need, but I will promise you the Scripture is relevant for all ages. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you’re getting older, you are. You will. We are not invincible, although we like to think we are.

Take your Bible and open to Psalm 71, if you’ve not already. It is entitled in your Bible with something along the lines of “A Prayer of An Old Man for Deliverance,” Oh, cheery title that is. Keil, the German-French scholar who did extensive work in the Hebrew Old Testament, calls it “The Prayer of A Grey-Headed Servant of God for Further Divine Aid.” That just makes me feel warm all over. I just, you know. It is one of the few psalms that addresses the aged very well, as Psalm 90 and others do. I thought of calling it “Songs to Aging Children Come,” which, if you were a Joni Mitchell fan, you would understand. Or I thought of calling it “I’m Still Here,” if you remember Steven Sondheim’s song, both of which, for that band width of that audience talked about, as life changes and we get older how do we approach it? How do we deal with that? How do we address it?

Scripture has, of course, far more value than those songs would have. It is a song. It is a hymn. It would be something they would know off the top of their head, as we sang hymns some of you probably knew very well today. I do not want to look at this verse by verse, but more in sections and chunks under the four headings in your outline, “The Reality of Aging,” “The Richness of Aging,” “The Resources of Aging,” and the “Rewards of Aging.”

Let me reread the first three verses, “The reality of aging:” “In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be ashamed. In Your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline Your ear to me and save me. Be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come; You have given commandment to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress.”

As you read this, in the further verses the psalmist stacks up, he piles on, descriptors of who this God is, what He has been like to him in his experience—refuge, deliverer, rock, fortress, rescue, hope. He did not sit down on some desert mountain and pull out a Hebrew Thesaurus and look up words to describe God. He describes God in relationship to how God has worked in his past, how God has worked in his experiential life.

As I look back over my life, we don’t know if it’s David or not, but the psalmist is saying, “You’ve been my rock, my deliverer, my refuge, the One whom I’ve come to again and again and again, this immovable fortress.” When you read your Old Testament, if you use the New America Standard you will come across the word “stronghold” both in the Psalms and the Old Testament a number of times. It’s the word matsuwd; matsuwd, which we gloss Masada.

And when you travel to Israel you will go up to the top of Masada and it’s probably one of David’s strongholds. We don’t know for sure. If I were a betting man I would bet it was one of his strongholds, because from that vista you can see for miles in all directions. You are safe when you’re up high because you can see the enemy approaching. And David likens, or the psalmist likens God to his deliverer, his rock, his fortress, his refuge, his hope. It’s the worshiper’s mindset. Question: do we see God in this way? Our refuge, our fortress, our deliver, the One who saves us, the One in whom we place our hope.

Drop down in verse 9 and you’ll see the first consequence of aging. I itemized three. Number 1: the loss of former strength: “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength fails.” Number 1 under reality of aging, is the loss of former strength. “Don’t cast me off when I’m old; don’t forsake me when my strength fails.”

William F. Buckley, allegedly, on his 80th birthday was asked how he felt. And he said, “I’m decomposing.” We lose strength as we age. John Wesley, journal entry June 29, 1789, “This day I enter my 86th year. I now find I grow old. One, my sight is decayed so I cannot read small print, unless in a strong light. Two, my strength is decayed so that I walk much slower than I did some years since. Three, my memory of names, whether a person’s or places is decayed until I stop a little to recollect them. What I should be afraid of is this: if I took thought of the morrow that my body would weigh down my mind and create in me stubbornness, the decrease of my understanding, or peevishness by the increase of bodily infirmities, but Thou will answer me O Lord, my God.”

Remember the day when your mother would ask you to read something for her? I can still see my mom saying, “Michael, come read this for me,” and she’d be doing this and I would read it for her. And now I say to Devin, “Devin, Sarah, come read this for your dad.” Even with the bi-focals I can’t see that fine print anymore. I used to play racquetball two and three times a week. I had a weight trainer in my 40s. I was in extraordinary shape for a 40-year-old man, not a professional athlete, but for an average run-of-the-mill working stiff I was in really good shape in my 40s. I repaired my cars. I kept my yard very well. I could fix anything in the house from electrical to water heaters to dry wall to a little carpentry work. I could do it all.

And then the loss of strength; I now pay people to do it badly. I could do that better; I used to be able to do that stuff. And if I do it now I will pay for it in many ways, not only financially, but physically; you lose strength.

Secondly, there is the ongoing struggles of life. We have the reality of aging in the loss of our former strength; secondly, in the ongoing struggles. Look at verses 4 and verse 10. Verse 4:”Rescue me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the grasp of the wrongdoer and the ruthless man.” Verse 10: “For my enemies have spoken against me; and those who watch for my life have consulted together.” So we have these ongoing struggles of life as he gets older.

Dr. Marvin Tate writes, “The psalmist may have expected in mature age to bring an exemption from such attacks.” We think when we get older life might get a little easier. And we have two components in the psalm. We have both national enemies, which the psalmist is mentioning. But we also have just the stuff of life that happens to us. It might be finances, our grown children who we wrestle with. It might be the naysayers in our life. I don’t know about you, but God always seems to have a handful of naysayers in my life. No matter what you want to say or do they’re going to say something different, and why it’s not going to work and why it’s wrong. They’re such joyful people to be around.

Or you have that critical person in your life who’s always got to complain, or the whiners in your life that always whine about everything. I had a student ministries pastor at one of the churches I served and he had a big international “No” symbol on his door with the word “whining” underneath it. Come to his office, no whining. I loved that sign. A friend gave me a clock that was like that, but it broke so I’m going to whine about it. We whine about,… you know, when kids are little, what do we tell them? We say there’s no whining.

And by the way, if you’re young parents, great rule: there’s no whining in this house. You can whine in your bedroom with the door closed. That’s the only place we allow whining. With all our children that’s how we did it. It’s a wonderful thing. Doors on children’s rooms are wonderful things. “Go up to your room and whine. You’re not going to whine in the kitchen.” But the problem is where do you send them when they’re adults? I haven’t found that room yet to send whining adults. There’s a room down the hall here at Stonebriar; it’s called the “Whining Room.” Go down there, have a little cheese with your whine.

A good friend of many of ours in this room pastored a nationally renowned church for 30 years and in the diocese. And he has fought a long legal battle and lost everything, buildings, pensions, every checking account the church owned, the diocese took away. Spent millions on their legal fees the past seven, eight, years fighting this diocese split. And I would call him on the ongoing. “How are you doing?” “How are you doing?” “How are you doing”? And we would talk about it. And there were times he was obviously low and high and encouraged and they won every single litigation until the Supreme Court and they lost.

And I called him one day and I said, “You know,” I said, “this is not meant to be cliché counsel, but,” he was 72 at the time; he’s about 73, 74 now. I said, “You know, you weren’t ready for this when you were 35, or 40 or even 50. But somehow, in God’s strange providential sovereign care, He knew you were ready in your 70s.” And he fought it with grace and dignity. And the papers that had the op-eds of the diocese and his; his was kind and soft and we blessed God, while the diocese was vitriolic and unbecoming. And they are meeting in a Catholic Church school auditorium with almost 3,000 people. And 40 stayed behind at the church.

Oh, when you get to be 70 aren’t you supposed to be able to retire and reach for the bench a little bit? Excuse me, prof, and rest a little bit? Prof always said, “Don’t reach for the bench.” I kind of like the idea of the bench, prof, because we get old and we get tired.

The third reality of aging is loneliness. Look at verse 11. And the enemy’s saying, “God has forsaken him; pursue and seize him, for there is no one to deliver.” The psalmist likely had literal enemies who are taking advantage of his old age. And certainly if we think of David’s life, how many internal struggles from his own son, from Absalom, from Mehetabel, he had many events historically we could pin on David as a time stamp to say even when he got old he still has struggles. But what he’s saying here is, I feel so alone in it.

And again, one of the realities of aging, as you live you become lonely. My father died at 88, two years ago. My mom is still living in Houston; she’s 84. And remarkable people: Dad was retired for 25 years and he would often say all his friends are dead. My mom has no friends; they’re all dead. Cheery sermon number 2. If you live long you will lose friendships, you will lose a husband, a wife, you may lose a child. God help you if you do. And we live in a crazy healthcare world where we can do things we couldn’t do 10, 12, 15, 20 years ago, and we can extend life further and further and it’s all sorts of issues we face. All of us will.

And he’s worried about being lonely; no one to deliver him. As an aside lesson for you and me, call those who are older and do not presume they are not lonely. I’ve called my mom and dad for years, and my dad is the chatty one in the family. I’d call; mom will say, “Michael’s on the phone.” That’s all we get, “Michael’s on the phone,” and he and I would talk about the same thing every time we called, same thing. And when he was very sick in the hospital I called him all the time. And the last five years of his life he said to me, verbatim, at the end of the call, “Thank you for calling. You’ll never know what it means. You’re one of the few who calls.”

And now, my mom’s been a widow now for almost two years, and at first it was hard to talk to her on the phone. She didn’t know what to say. She cried all the time. And now, two years later I get on the phone, ask a few questions and I can’t,… the woman just goes…. She’s making up for lost time. And bless God for bluetooth speakers in my car. I sit there and listen to mom talk, and I say, “Mom, I’ve got to go into a meeting.” “Oh, I’m so sorry I talked.” I say, “No, don’t be sorry. I love,” and I do, “I love hearing you talk. I love hearing you talk, mom. I love you. I’m glad to hear you talk. I’m encouraged a little bit. I hope you keep on being encouraged, but I’ve got to go to a meeting.” What does she say? “Thank you for calling. You’ll never know what it means.”

I have other friends who fall in that category. And I call them and say, “I love you, praying for you, think about how you’re doing.” I go down the list and they’ll say the same thing. I know some of our parents and older people are difficult. I know. But do you want to bury them bitter and lonely, or do you bury them saying, I’m glad I called them and talked to them? So those of you who have elderly friends, parents, pick up the phone and call them. Tell them you love them and avoid the hot buttons, avoid the arguments. It’s not going to get any better. I told my brother before my dad died, I said, “Are you going to stand at his grave a bitter man? Who’s the adult? When are you going to grow up?” That’s all for free.

The reality of aging to the richness of aging: The great advantage, if we live long and mature and don’t just get old. The first benefit is easy to see in verses 5-6: “For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth. By You I have been sustained from birth; You are He who took me from my mother’s womb; and my praise is continually before You.”

Number 1: the benefit is knowing God a long time brings confidence. When you know God a long time you have a confidence that a younger person doesn’t have. Now, some versions in verse 6 seem to suggest David relied on the Lord all of his life. That’s an unfortunate rendering of the verse. What he’s saying is that, when I look at my life from the time I came out of the womb until today, You’ve sustained me. Those are what the parallel passages, the parallelism of 5 and 6 mean: From the time I came out of the womb until today You’ve sustained me.

July 22, 2012. You are sitting at Stonebriar Community Church in a comfortable chair with, bless God, air-conditioning; and by God’s grace He has brought you to this day. You and I may have a host of problems awaiting us this afternoon, next week, next month, this year. So be it. You are here today, and for this we should rejoice. And we gain confidence as we have one day at a time, all any of us are given. No perfect homes, no perfect parents, no perfect children or grandchildren. Well, perfect grandchildren, that’s probably debatable.

Polycarp is being taken to the lions, to the arena; he will not pay homage to Caesar. And one of the city officials says to him, “What harm is there in saying ‘Caesar is lord,’ and burning incense and saving your life?” Polycarp answered, “For 86 years I have been Christ’s slave and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” And he was martyred the 22nd of February, 156 AD. He was frail. He was old. But he had confidence as he looked back on his life for 86 years, “God brought me to this point.”

The second benefit is you may become a marvel. Look at verse 7 again, where we can get a bearing on it. Psalm 71:7: “I have become a marvel to many, for You are my strong refuge.” Now the word “marvel” here can be rendered a lot of ways. It can be read appalled, wondered, or example in other English versions. The word is a little bit complex, but it’s kind of fun. In Deuteronomy 6:22 Moses says, “The Lord showed great and distressing signs and wonders.” Great and distressing signs and wonders; you’re looking back on the exodus and we think of the 10 plagues. Israel is spared; Egypt is under the burden of those terrible and wonderful signs. They’re marvelous and they’re terrible at the same time. Peron writes, “To understand this is applying to the whole of wonder, his wonderful life, the trials and blessings, the perils and deliverance that do not fall to ordinary men.”

So it’s a great word. It’s one of those words when, it’s like when a Texas storm comes, and you know there might be hurricanes and devastation and floods, but when you have a vista of a Texas storm—when the sky is blue and then black and thundering—it’s a marvelous thing is it not? It’s a terrible thing. That is the sense I believe what the psalmist is saying when he speaks of my life has become a horrible terrible marvel. It makes sense if you unpack it.

2001 when my back first being a challenge and I was learning what I could and couldn’t do and trying to find out treatments and so forth, I remember sitting in our little house in Burke, Virginia. And I was the guy who could fix anything and do everything and take care of everything; in my 40s in great health. And I’m sitting on the edge of our little couch and Cindy’s sitting there in front of me, and I’m the invincible 42-year-old that can do anything. And I am in such excruciating pain that tears are running off my jaw line. And I don’t mean it literally—I’ve shared this story before—but I said, “Honey, if I don’t find relief I’m going to jump off highway 66 on to 495.” I didn’t mean it, but that’s how I felt.

And I said, “I don’t know how to go on.” And I looked at her and said, “How do you go on? How do you put up with me?” And I’ll never forget. I can see it as a video replay. She closed her eyes, and in about 10 seconds she opened them up and she said, “I look back on God’s kindness in our life until this day. Why would He not be faithful in the future?” And I have clung to that all these years. You’re here today; I hate the disease I live with. You may hate the disease, the malady, you live with. We can be a marvel or we can be miserable. Suffering is not an option; misery is.

While we have the reality of aging, we may lose strength and struggle and we may become lonely; but there’s a richness of aging. We get confidence as we look back and see how God’s brought us to this point. And our lives may in some strange way become a marvel to other people that go, “Oh, my word! How do they do it?” And that’s not the way I want to be used of God, but what if He wants to use you that way?

Thirdly, we have resources in verses 17-18: “O God, You have taught me from my youth, and I still declare Your wondrous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.” The resource of aging is that if you see today the great resources He has given you and how you will give them to the next generation; if you see today the great resources you have in living long and how you will use those not for yourself, but for the next generation. So we draw upon our resources from the past. We have responsibility to tell other people the stories that we have lived and learned.

Cindy and I mentor young married couples. We take on seven young couples, married one to four years with no children. That’s our criteria. We’ve done this a number of times and we get them so they’re about the same bandwidth, and we own them for two years. We take them through some fill-in-the-blank Bible studies. We take them through Dr. Hendricks’ Living by the Book.

By the way, if you’re at Stonebriar and you haven’t gone through Living by the Book you’re a big fat sinner. I’m a guest preacher. I can say those kind of things. It’s God’s will for you to go through Living by the Book. It will change your entire view of the Bible. And we make them all go through it.

We do Financial Peace University or Crown, one of the two, depending on the group and the context. And then we basically spend the bulk of the two years in the Bible looking at every passage on marriage and family. They use their Bible study method skills. I make them read a big fat book on theology, which half of them hate and half of them love. It’s like a seminary course for two years: 5:30 to 7:30 at my house every Sunday night, every Sunday night with few exceptions. The first night they show up on time. I set the bar really high. And, oh by the way, the admission price for being in Cindy’s and my group, you will do a group when you’re done or don’t come in this group.

This is the only Bible study you will do because you won’t have time for other Bible studies. So that BSF, Precept stuff goes away. You’re going to do just this. We own you for two years. And by the third or fourth week they’re coming on time, they’re staying till 9 and 10 and 11 at night. And I’ve got my pajamas on, I’m flossing my teeth. I’m going, “Honey, it’s time for these people to go home.” And we fall in love with them and they fall in love with us. And we have some conflicts. And I have lunch with the guys one on one. I take them out and I give them a little comeuppance and say, “You signed up for this you’ve got to do the homework.”

Of those seven couples that just finished this past December, six of them are leading small groups and knocking it out of the park. And I wish I could share with you the emails they send Cindy and me. It would self-ingratiating for me to do that, but they learned. Cindy and I learned a ton, but they learned.

We did this 10 years ago and had a 10 year anniversary with our first group. And to see the 37 children from that first group and hear the stories of how God had used that two years in their experience to change their course of their entire lives. There are young men who will come up on Thursday night when I teach single men saying, “Will you mentor me?” I can’t take on any more.

If you’re sitting at Stonebriar Church and you’ve known Christ for a number of years and you read your Bible because you want to, you know a little bit of theology and you’re not using it, you’re sitting on your biblical theological laurels. Get off of them and go mentor somebody. Invite them out to lunch today or next Sunday. Bring them over to your house and watch a game. You don’t have to be a theologian. In fact, you’re probably better not to be like prof or me or Hannah or Chuck. We’re weird. Be normal. It’d be more affective. Just be normal. If you’ve raised some teenagers, you’ve got some children who are married, you’ve got stuff of life.

You have a responsibility, the psalmist is saying, to declare His deeds to the next generation. How has God worked in your life through the Word through His people in their life? They are desperate for it and they stand in line and ask Cindy and me, “Can we be in your next group?” The body of Christ is missing a great opportunity to teach them how to do this. And you can do this on the backstroke.

Fourth, the rewards of aging, verses 22 and 24: “I will also praise You with harp, even Your truth, O my God; to You I will sing praises with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; and my soul, which You have redeemed. My tongue also will utter Your righteousness all day long; for they are ashamed, for they are humiliated who seek my hurt.”

The Bible students here will notice verse 1 and verse 24 are parallels. I won’t develop it, but you can look at it on your own. I do want you to notice a couple things. Verse 22: “I will also praise, I will sing praises.” Whenever you read “I will” in the psalter it’s a declarative. When David writes in Psalm 101, “I will sing of Your lovingkindness and justice; to Thee, Lord, I will give praise,” these are choices. When you walked in the door today you made a choice to come to church. Did you make a choice to worship Him no matter how you felt? I think it’s a declarative nature, “I will enter into worship, I will enter into reading, I will, singing, I will pray with the man who’s praying, the person praying, I will listen to him,” even if you don’t like the music.

I learned 20 some years ago, forget the form of music and look at the men, the women, who are leading the music; because they love Jesus and they’re trying to use their gifting to help you and me worship. And if you haven’t got there yet, you haven’t grown up in worship. Worship is a choice we make, not a preference in style of music. And I live in music city, baby. It’s a mess down there. The worship wars will never die. The believer in Christ can mature to him or herself and say, you know what? I’m not going to complain about too loud, too this, too that, too whatever.

“He didn’t shave.” That’s what I hear a lot. They don’t shave. Well, they’re 20 years old and idiots. What do you expect? They’re brilliant musicians and they love Jesus. Can you get past that and love them and love what they’re trying to do? “It’s too loud.” Sit in the back. A friend of mine; I don’t have the courage to say it at our church, but he says, “If it’s too loud you’re too old.” I’m quoting somebody. I didn’t say that. Someone else said that.

You have resources you can use. You have rewards of being older. The psalm looks at the present, his current condition, verse 22, “I will also praise; I will sing praises.” But he moves from there to looking to the past care. And now he speaks of two rewards: He will know and experience God’s righteousness; he will, secondly, know and experience God’s faithfulness. The two rewards are he knows God’s righteousness, experiences it, and he knows and experiences God’s faithfulness.

Righteousness is mentioned five times in the psalm. When you read it this week and you circle all the first person pronouns, “I, me, my,” you circle or box all the second personal pronouns, “you, your,” you’ll see the juxtaposition of what the worshiper’s saying, what he’s saying about God, what he’s praying about his condition and you will start to align yourself understanding what the psalmist is saying.

If you know and experience God’s righteousness. What’s God’s righteousness? God always does the right thing in the right way according to His right time schedule. There are million injustices a day. Aurora is an extraordinary injustice. It’s an evil wicked injustice and we can’t stop all injustices. But God is always righteous in the way He deals with man.

Think of a trial. Some of us have been involved in litigation and if you go to trial and you just, you wish, you hope and pray the judge, the defending and the prosecuting attorneys are all men and women of perfect character, immutability, integrity, righteousness above the board. You know how long that trial would last? One minute. Because people would settle it right then and there. But they’re not; and judges don’t judge righteously; and attorneys don’t always do the right thing in the right way. They did the right thing for their client maybe, the right thing for their pocketbook.

I’m not against the system. You who are attorneys don’t get mad at me. You know better than me. It’s a flawed system. It’s the best on the planet, but it’s flawed. Imagine a God-King advocate who always does the right thing in the right way. That’s your God. And the psalmist says if you live long enough you’ll get a perspective on life. Yes, there are many injustices in life, but I know and experience God’s righteousness.

Secondly, I know and experience His faithfulness, verse 22. The whole psalm really is about God’s faithfulness. As we look back on life, no matter what our health or life condition is today, He has been faithful to you to today. If you’ve been divorced, remarried, hurt, a son or daughter’s broken your heart, you’ve lost someone, you’ve got cancer, you’ve got some degenerative disk disease, whatever it is you’re dealing with He’s nonetheless faithful because you’re here right now.

Charles Simeon retired in 1836 after 54 years of ministry at the Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge. A friend of his learned that he was still getting up at 4:00 every morning making his own fire and studying the Bible. He went to him and said, “Mr. Simeon, now that you are retired do you think you might take things a little more easily?” Simeon replied, “What? Shall I not now run with all my might when the winning post is in sight?”

You’ve got to love it. You’ve got to love it. It’s a rare record of a worshiper who’s maturing in age, diminishing in strength, rich in wisdom, and holding up confidence to God even though life isn’t what he thought it would be. And that’s all of us. When you read it this week I hope you will look at what the psalmist prayed for, how he prayed, what he asked.

In 1984, I suppose, I met a man named Floyd Sharp. Floyd became a mentor and friend of mine for 15 years. In many respects he is the father I never had. And Floyd, some of you will know, this Floyd was an elder at a little tiny church in Irving, Texas, called Irving Bible Church where your pastor, when he had horn-rimmed glasses and a flat top had graduated Dallas Seminary, was pastoring. Irving Bible Church. And Floyd was one of the elders at Chuck’s first church he served. So I got to know Floyd and we met for coffee every couple of weeks, sometimes once a week, a month. We spent great times with Debra, his wife and prof and Jean Hendricks and other friends. And Floyd was the encouraging consummate father I never had and I thank God for him.

In [about] 1999 he was diagnosed with bone cancer. And as he went through radiation and it was obvious he was not going to live long, his heart had gotten enlarged and they needed to put a stent in. And he had a doctor, whom I’ll call Dr. Smith, that said, “Mr. Sharp, we need to do this procedure, but because of your enlarged heart and your cancer you’re at a very high risk for this procedure and it may kill you.” Now, Floyd had shared Christ with Dr. Smith a number of times. Floyd was the most amazing guy when it came to sharing Christ. We would go to Luby’s up on 183. Is Luby’s still on 183 or did they tear it down? Well, Luby’s café, you all know Luby’s, of course. It’s a Texas institution. And what was it, a Luanne plate, whatever, yeah.

So we would go to Luby’s. That’s where Floyd liked to eat. And there’d be the woman back there with the hairnet that’s been serving the carrot and raisin salad for 32 years. You know what I’m talking about, you know? And he would say to her, “You look like you need a hug.” She would walk down to the register, and Floyd would too, and they’d be hugging. And all the women, “Where’s my hug? Where’s my hug?” And they would leave their station and go hug Floyd. And the line’s backing up now at Luby’s and the manager’s got his hands on his hips. I’m going, I don’t know him. I just found him on the street.

And he’d put smiley face stickers on his person. He’d just stick smiley face stickers on his person. And he’d hug any woman in the world. He’d go you look like you need a hug and they would hug him. He was just wonderfully weird. And he shared Christ with everybody.

And so Dr. Smith is prepping him and he says, “I remind you, Mr. Sharp, this procedure, you may not live through it.” And Floyd grabbed his forearm and looked this doctor in the eye and said, “I know you’re going to do your best and I trust you. But whatever happens, Dr. Smith, I want you to make me a promise, that you will investigate the claims of Christ that you and I have talked about.”

And Floyd Sharp died in that procedure and that was his dying act. And we buried him at Hackberry Creek in a little church, Chuck Swindoll, another pastor and I officiated his service. And I wept like an idiot and I thought, what a way to die. And Dr. Smith was sitting in the far back corner of this little church in Hackberry Creek. All the way from Denton, Texas, he came to a funeral. How many doctors go to their patients funerals? That’s the way I want to go.

Will you declare His righteous deeds to this generation? There are great rewards, great resources, great responsibilities. How will you use what He has given you? Pray that you and I mature beyond self-absorbed, whining people. But like the psalmist says, “I’ll declare You all the time to this generation.”

Prayer: Father, we thank You. Your extraordinary love for us and while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. As we mature in age and however we face it keep us from being self-absorbed and complaining and whining and blame-shifting and dodging and endlessly seeking treatments and cures and relief. And help us to see the big picture this life is a vapor and we will live for eternity unencumbered by this flesh. I pray for each of us as we mature in Christ to be more like You and less like our sinful selves. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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