“He just didn’t end well” is a common phrase. Sadly, how a man finishes his life may dramatically define him.
Most men I know want to go out with a bang, not a whimper. So how can our latter days be even more significant than our former?
Take a lesson from David in Psalm 71, which is subtitled by David, “Prayer of an Old Man for Deliverance.”
Be to me a rock of habitation
to which I may continually come (v. 3 NASB).
David, the shepherd-leader, often used the picture of a rock or fortress to describe his relationship with the Lord. But here he described the constant nature of this protection.
He asked the Lord to be a rock of “habitation.” This means a dwelling place, a permanent place. And, David promised that he would “continually come.”
When we are not careful, we begin to look to other things as the source of our life and enabling. David reminds us to make our dependence so consistent that it looks like our permanent location.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people were saying of us in the closing chapters of our life, “He lives in the presence of Christ!”
You are my hope;
O Lord GOD, You are my confidence from my youth.
By You I have been sustained from my birth;
You are He who took me from my mother’s womb;
my praise is continually of You (vv. 5-6).
David understood God’s contribution to every stage of his life. And he reminded his soul often of what God had done. “Bless the LORD, O my soul,” he said in Psalm 103:1, “and all that is within me, bless His holy name.”
This looking back made him grateful, and his gratitude erupted in not momentary, but sustained praise. In fact, he said in v. 14 that he would “praise You yet more and more.”
The oldest believers shouldn’t be the grumpiest, but the greatest. They should be well educated in a lifestyle of praise.
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 (v. 18).
David knew that his highest and best use as an older man was to give those behind him a perspective they could not possibly have on their own. He felt responsible to declare to them the glories of trusting in God and experiencing His power.
He wanted them to learn how to come to the Father, letting Him be their strength and trust, so that increased praise would swell to the One to whom it rightfully belongs. The older he became, the more he longed for God to be famous among the next generation.
You who have shown me
many troubles and distresses
will revive me again (v. 20).
David knew that God alone was the source of continuous reviving, not only for his life but for everyone. He kept asking for and seeking greater measures of revival in his own life and nation right up until his last breath.
Can I tell you a tale of two men?
One of the finest pastors and leaders I know in Arkansas, Don Moore, is 80 or so, and it seems to me he is at the pinnacle of his passion … and his joy. Before the recent illness of his wife curtailed his traveling, he was speaking across the state, calling people to cry out for revival and awakening in our day. At last count, he had mobilized 1700 senior adults to pray every day for revival!
Sid Carswell was a former missionary/pastor who was in our church. For the last 18 months of his life until he died, he came every single day at noon to the church to pray, with any who would join him, for revival and awakening in our day.
Sid’s knees and hips were so bad it was excruciating even to walk. He fell while leaving from this prayer time and broke his hip, but when I visited him at his home before his death, he was still coming, still praising, still telling, and still seeking!
Dear Sustainer of my soul, give me the grace and strength to keep coming, keep praising, keep telling, and keep seeking more and more, all the way to the end. May increasing days give You increasing praise. Squeeze from my meager life every ounce of usefulness available, and may my last breath declare Your glory!