One of the sad things about getting older is that there are fewer and fewer people older than I am. I have always liked having old-timers to look up to, people farther down the road who can tell me about a time before the times I know, and who can share a perspective of more winters and summers.
In my WORLD mailbox I received a letter from a 71-year-old pastor (10 years more wisdom than I have) who wrote, in part:
“When my wife, Sandy, and I got saved back in the early ’70s, we remarried after six years of divorce and were racially/socially/financially changed, as were many others. We decided to give up our whole old life, not just a few specific errors, and wanted to pursue everything the Bible taught about living. We are not kooks, nor perfect, of course, but it worked! … Thirty Teen Challenge guys were visiting our church yesterday, and I ended the services after their testimonies and songs with a short message titled, ‘The Happiness of Pursuit: Follow Christ Crucified.” … Chapter 10 of 1 Corinthians warns of getting ‘saved’ and never reaching the promised land … as an example to us today.” (Emphasis mine.)
The Bible in many places paints a vision of the great measure of transformation we can expect if we believe. One or two examples:
“[God] is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy …” (Jude 24).
“Consequently, he [Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).
“… by this time you ought to be teachers …” (Hebrews 5:12).
So why should it surprise me to hear from a man who claims to have experienced this? He took those promises seriously and pressed into them and found a salvation that was more than being rid of “just a few specific errors.” He and his wife were able to “give up our whole old life” to walk in what Paul called a radical “newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
Yet, there is nothing like the double-confirmation of testimony confirming the Word. It’s like a two-stranded rope of assurance. Not that we absolutely need men’s testimony (as Paul wrote in Romans 3:4, “Let God be true though every one a liar”). But a declaration of the Word proved out in a person’s life confirms that we were right to take God at his word, and this encourages us and lifts faith.
So it is sad to see the old-timers fade away. But I figure if I cannot much longer have old-timers in my life, then I can try at least to be an old-timer, one the young whippersnappers can come rock on the porch with for a spell.