Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 41

What I Read Today: Psalms 64-72.

What Stood Out About What I Read: Psalm 71: 17-21, ” O God, you have taught me since I was young, and I am still declaring your amazing deeds. Even when I am old and gray, O God, do not abandon me, until I tell the next generation about your strength, and those coming after me about your power. Your justice, O God, extends to the skies above; you have done great things. O God, who can compare to you? Though you have allowed me to experience much trouble and distress, revive me once again! Bring me up once again from the depths of the earth! Raise me to a position of great honor! Turn and comfort me!”

Random Thoughts About What I Read:

One time our church’s women’s ministry had a meeting in which the younger women of our congregation were asked to sit up front and discuss what it was they were looking for in a church ministry. In a lot of ways they were being asked to help design what that ministry would look like in the future.

The younger women, most of whom had been through the student ministry that I lead, came away from the meeting very enthusiastic. They felt they’d had a chance to talk about what they loved about our church as well as listened to when they talked about things our church needed to work on. They felt they had a strong voice in the future of the women’s ministry.

Interestingly, there were generally two types of responses from the leadership of the ministry. One was a feeling that things might have to change…which caused various reactions in the leadership both positively and negatively. That’s to be expected with any change but it was encouraging to me that the discussions of how that might happen and what that might look like were taking place.

The other was an amused bewilderment that the young people wanted to hear the stories of the previous generation! This is what excited me the most. Because these discussions of the leadership all went along the lines of “there’s nothing special about me, so why do they care about my story?”

The reason I was excited about this was that I could help answer the question: There’s more special to you than you might realize. See, these friends and peers of mine had done a lot of living. They’d dumped and been dumped. They’d graduated with honors and they’d flunked out. They’d run companies and gave it all up for motherhood. They’d been mommies and been childless. They’d followed Christ for 65 years and for only 65 hours. They’d been poor and rich. They’d moved like a M*A*S*H* unit and lived in the community their whole life. They’d been homecoming queens and nobodies. They’d been to Woodstock and chaired the committee for ladies’ teas. They been tattooed and prim/proper. There’d been happy marriages and bitter divorces. Name it…and these ladies (my friends and peers, mind you) were incredibly interesting by almost any standard–even if years of suburbia caused them to doubt that reality.

And all this happened in the context of their walks with Christ.

And all this was encouraging that we could design programs & ministries with the idea that they could pass on this life experience with a group of people that didn’t really see any type of generation gap at all. They were hungry to grow in Christ and were happy that people a little further down the road could help them out here and there.

And all this fits within my firm belief that the Body of Christ needs to be about CONVERGING. I’ve heard enough about the “emergent church” that I’m pretty tired of it and glad it seems to be fading from publishing/discussion. I’ve always felt that the younger generation can bring us passion and enthusiasm, and the older generation can bring wisdom and experience, which makes for a pretty perfect blend if you think about it.

Anyway, that’s what I get from Psalm 71.

These are the words of a more experienced person. They’ve taken refuge in God. They’ve proudly walked with Him. They understood their need to be delivered by His righteousness and that they needed to be rescued. They wanted to be heard by God and knew He could save them. They wanted to dwell where He was & is.

They’ve also done this over the long haul. From their youth. From the time of their birth. They understood that God had a plan for them from the time they were in their mother’s belly…and they continually praise God.

Other people noticed, too. See verse 7? People wondered how God could be their refuge. They praised God early & often.

They also understood they were getting older. Their strength would fail. And they knew it was possible that their enemies were going to get weak and try to harm them. They also knew that God would help them, take up their cause…for one reason: So they could talk about God’s salvation all day long.

And in particular, one group: The next generation (see v. 18). God has built them and grown them, and the psalmist was going to ask for a few more years past being old and gray so they could tell the younger members of their tribe all that God had done in and through them over the years.

The good & bad.
The up & down.
The in-betweens.

All of it. God was there, working, and they were there, growing. They knew it would be important to tell the younger ones about why God was so praiseworthy.

Unfortunately, in our culture, that isn’t seen as a goal or even a desire. One time I had the chance to talk about ways we could design more ministries and programs to give the more seasoned in our church the chance to do that very thing and I was told, in no uncertain terms, that they’d poured a lot of money into this place. They designed it the way they liked it and were very happy here. They also said they’d be happy to keep supporting the student ministry with staff and money and resources to make sure they were taught well…

…but somehow, someway, this particular group didn’t want to invest their lives in the lives of students. This seemed odd to me, and I told them so. They seemed resolute.

But just about the time I was getting discouraged, the oldest lady in our senior citizen’s ministry was being nice and polite and listening to my diatribe about all this. I decided to ask her to lead a special time of our middle school weekend retreat where just the girls ages 11-14 would be there.

Elna laughed. She said, “Brent, I haven’t been a teenage girl in–literally–60 years. What could I possibly tell them about that would interest them?”

My response: “How about almost 70 years of walking with Jesus? I think you might have a little experience witht that.”

Her eyes lit up…

…”I can tell them about Jesus? Well, if that’s what you want me to talk about, then I’ll be there. I’ll need a comfortable chair because it might take me a while. How much time will I have?”

I told her: “About half an hour. Maybe 45 minutes.”

Elna said, “Well, that might not be enough time. Will you be mad if I go over?”

Not at all.

May her tribe increase…

…of a group of people who will tell their stories of what God has done in them and through them.

…who are willing to share His strength in the ups and downs and ins and outs and good and bad and rich and poor and everything around and in-between all those.

…who will shout for joy and sing praises to Him and teach them how to do it while giving them the room to make it their very own.

Again, may her tribe increase.

(Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalm 73-78)