Don’t forget Anna! As you recount the Christmas story and tell about the angels, shepherds, Mary and Joseph, the baby in the manger, and the wise men, don’t forget Anna. Who was she? Anna was an 84-year-old woman who also brought gifts to the parents of the Christ-child and others around her. No one is ever too old to have impact on others for Christ.
Anna, an old woman with impact on others
This is what Luke wrote about Anna,
“Now when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord…There was also a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old, having been married to her husband for seven years until his death.She had lived as a widow since then for eighty-four years. She never left the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.At that moment, she came up to them and began to give thanks to God and to speak about the child to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:22, 36-38)
Anna as a “very old” woman spent her days worshiping God and praying for others. The Lord opened her eyes to see the baby Jesus, revealing to her heart that this baby was the promised Messiah. Then, she encouraged the young parents through her words of thanks to God for the child. And as a prophetess of God speaking forth his truth, she began to speak to anyone who was listening that the promised redeemer of Israel had come at last. She brought the gifts of gratitude and hope to all who heard her. And the Holy Spirit recorded this for us, including her advanced age, so that we would know that no one is ever too old to have an impact on others for Christ.
These words recorded by God through Luke are an encouragement to me as I am in my 70th year of life. I praise God for the life He has given to me. And as I have grown older, I have watched and been impacted by Christian women in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s who are still passionate about their relationship with Jesus. Vickie Kraft, an early contributor to this blog, was one of those women. The culture says to us older women, “Retire, take it easy, pamper yourself, focus on being a grandparent—that’s enough. Let the young women do all the work of ministry.” These gals I know say through their actions, “Not me! As a Jesus follower, I’m commissioned to serve Him actively for life as a disciple-maker for Him.” I want to be like that until my last breath!
But how do you do that?
Stay fresh and green as you age.
Our God wants us to keep bearing fruit for him as we age. This is what the psalmist wrote,
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; [that was a huge strong tree] planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’” (Psalm 92:12-15)
The righteous who are planted in God’s house will still bear fruit in old age, staying fresh and green. I have read this psalm before and nothing special happened. But this time was different because I am definitely approaching old age. For everyone reading who is growing older, this verse is for you. And, in reality, it is for all of us.
To stay fresh and green means to stay faithful to the Lord and useful to Him in bearing fruit. It is the opposite of developing hardened hearts. As a gardener, I have noticed that some plants develop hardened stems over time with fewer leaves, fewer blossoms, and much less fruit. That can happen to Christians in old age as well. I have seen “retirees” retire not only from their day jobs but also retire from serving in the local church, retire from having compassion on the lost, and retire from discipling younger believers. They often say, “We’ve been there, done that. Let the younger folks do the work.”
Sadly, it is often the older Christians sharing alarmist information on social media about how bad our country or culture is getting and how hopeless everything is. Their eyes are not on making disciples in their neighborhoods or retirement centers. I don’t want to get that way. I don’t want to get hardened like that.
Our God is a faithful God. He is consistently loyal to those whom He loves and who place their trust in Him. And God desires that we also be faithful to Him—to be unwavering in belief and consistently loyal to Him throughout our spiritual walk. That means for our lifetime. Here is the great news: Our God is also the One who enables us to live faithfully as we choose to do so. We make the choice. He empowers us to live out that choice.
To stay fresh and green as we age, you and I must:
- Stay tuned to the needs of the women around us—all ages, young to old—and desire to reach them and teach them.
- Approach Bible study with fresh eyes every day, looking for the new things the Lord will be teaching us and how we can share that with someone who needs to know it.
- Recognize God’s work in our life every day, not just what He did years ago. As Psalm 96:1 says, “Sing to the Lord a new song.” It is okay to share the good old song of how you came to Christ. But when you are aware of God’s presence and goodness daily, he gives you a new song to share about what the Lord is doing in your life today. That is staying fresh and green.
As I am now getting “old” in my late 60s, I look around and realize the younger women are leading the ministries and doing the teaching. And that is as it should be. Yet, I long to continue having influence and letting Jesus bear fruit through me. I desire to stay fresh and green and not get hardened.
Follow the examples of older women making an impact for Christ.
I thank God for older mentors in my life who did stay fresh and green until death. Two 80-year-olds in my weekly Bible Study are still passionate about Jesus and serving Him. They are still teachable from God’s Word and sharing what they know with others around them. I love being in their presence! My momma was still teaching children’s Sunday School into her 80s . Staying fresh and green is a heart attitude and a choice we must make even through declining physical and mental capabilities.
Several years ago, I was leading a disciple-making training at my church. A 79-year-old woman who attended the class shared that she was not only praying for women to get to know Jesus but also sharing her faith with neighbors and parents of her music students. At the training, I encouraged all to go home and write their 5-minute faith story. She did just that! And the Lord gave her an opportunity to share her story with a neighbor within a week. Not only that, she and another 60-something woman invited other church women to prepare their faith stories and share them as we met together one Sunday morning a month later. I want to be like that as I grow older.
At another church, I met an 85-year-old woman who had not put her faith in Jesus until she was past retirement age. She was so excited about ministering to other women, old and young, as she led a Bible study at her church and was active in general ministry to women. She was eager to pray for and love her peers who did not know Jesus yet and share what she had learned with them so they could experience her joy and freedom in Christ. Enthusiasm spread across her face. She loves Jesus and wants others around her to know it every day. I want to be like that at 85.
Another woman in her 70s shared with me that she was putting together a small discipling group. She wanted to establish younger believers in the basics of the Christian faith and needed more information about the resources I was sharing with the group. Excitement about discipling other women exuded from her. Yes, she was a little bit scared because of the responsibility, but who isn’t? In fact, the more we feel a bit scared, the more likely we will rely on the Spirit’s power in us to do what Jesus has called us to do. I want to be like her, scared but obedient and faithful when I am in my 70s!
Never too old to have impact for Christ
Women who are Jesus followers are never too old to have an impact on their friends—whether younger or older. The wisdom of God’s Word and His Spirit living inside us together give us the ability to remain faithful, to stay fresh and green and fruitful for Him. The choice is up to you and me.
As long as I am able, I want to still be sharing my faith, discipling women, and teaching the Bible even though I have lots of grey hair and wrinkles. I want to still be following Jesus as His disciple and living for Him as a disciple-maker for the rest of my life. Do you?
Will you choose to stay fresh and green for Him as you are growing old so that your life will still have impact on others for Christ?
To Be Found Faithful Bible Study of 2 Timothy (read online)
To Be Found Faithful Bible Study of 2 Timothy (download pdf)