Older Than Dirt . . . But Still Serving
by Barb Poston
Not too long ago there was a Facebook post with a listing of seventeen items such as metal ice cube trays, candy cigarettes, milk delivered in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers, and newsreels before a movie. If you remembered these things, the post said you were older than dirt. I knew all seventeen, which means I’m officially considered “older than dirt.”
It All Started with a Prayer
That post caused me to think of my life with Jesus and more specifically, my life in the church, which now spans more than sixty years. Within a few weeks of accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior, I was asked to pray at a youth rally. Just an innocent babe in Christ, I said yes. You should know, however, that I had no idea what a youth rally was, and I had never prayed out loud. As I stood to pray and turned to face hundreds of other teenagers, I was petrified. At that point, there was no turning back, but God got me through it.
After surviving that first serving experience, since that memorable day there have been more opportunities to serve Christ and his church than I could even begin to list for you. Just know that if it happened in or was connected to the church, it’s likely that my husband Tom and I have done it. Some of our more enriching service opportunities have been as youth sponsors, as elder and elder’s wife, and serving on three short-term mission trips. In our Christian walk, both Tom and I are “older than dirt.”
During those early years as a teen and then a young wife, saying “no” to serving requests rarely occurred. It took many years to learn to serve out of the giftedness given by the Holy Spirit and not feel guilty about turning down other requests. God’s Word tells me to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5, 6, NLT).
No Time to Waste
You might be wondering why Tom and I are still active servants in ministry. Especially in American churches, it is not uncommon for others our age who have retired from careers, and raised their family to also “retire” from volunteer ministry in the church. They may say something like, “I’ve served for so long; now it is time for younger people to step up and do the work.”
Admittedly, there are some ways in which we can no longer serve. Back in the day we sponsored all night lock-ins with teenagers. While we wouldn’t think of doing that now, I can smile and speak kind words of encouragement to teens as I help with M.A.D. Camp. Tom and I don’t actually drive nails in the lumber at our “Build the Walls” event at church, but we do bake and serve warm chocolate chip cookies to those who do build.
Several years ago at a session of the Lifeway Women’s Forum, we were each handed a paper measuring tape. As the session progressed, our speaker said to stretch out our measuring tape and look at the side with the small numbers. We were to find the number of our age and tear the tape off at that point. We threw that piece on the floor behind us as it represented our past that is gone forever. Then we were to find the age number to which we thought we might live. I generously thought perhaps 90 and tore that piece of tape and dropped it on the floor in front of me. That piece signifies the start of my eternity in Heaven. If my life expectancy estimate is correct, the small piece of measuring tape which remained represents the approximately seventeen years I have left to live my life wholeheartedly for God. As I held it in my hands, I was brought to tears. That snippet of tape is tucked in my Bible as a visual reminder of the importance to live my life wisely.
Acutely aware that my time on this earth is limited, I’m learning to focus more on the quality of my time rather than its quantity. In his book, The Fourth Quarter: The Hail Mary for Seniors, DeDe Weldon Casad says, “Time is a gift, but dedicated, quality time holds a battery of gifts that reinvent and evolve over and over again.”
While helping shoppers at the Little Angels event held at our church last December, volunteers were each given a T-shirt with the message “Live Generously.” As long as we breathe, God has purpose for our lives. With the time left to me, I can show generosity to others, to our church, and to the Lord by being gracious, kind, supportive, positive, faithful, and loving. First of all, I need to be generous in my relationship with God. Only then can I be generous in my serving, with my time, money, gifts, and my words. I love what Colossians 3:17 says, “Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way” (The Message).
An enjoyable quality activity is to have women friends in for afternoon tea and good conversation. Living generously means I try to listen well and respond with loving-kindness and integrity. Gals, if you would like to come by for tea or coffee some afternoon around 3:00, just text me to make sure I’m home. Sometimes there may even be homemade cookies.
For years, my life goal has been to finish well. I have two specific reasons to finish well. The first is to hear those precious words from my Lord, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. . . . Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:21, NLT).
My second reason comes from the song, “Find Us Faithful,” by Steve Green.
“O may all who come behind us find us faithful,
May the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
O may all who come behind us find us faithful.”
So Lord, here I am “older than dirt” but like the apostle Paul, “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Jesus Christ, is calling us” (Philippians 3:13, 14, NLT).
Barb Poston has been married to her career military husband for fifty-eight years. After Tom retired from the Air Force and then Barb retired from Family Christian Stores, both still love serving the Lord through supporting and serving his church and his people.