"Do not reject me now that I am old; do not abandon me now that I am feeble. . . . Now that I am old and my hair is gray, do not abandon me, O God!" (Psalm 71: 9,18)

Do you recall the episode of the Andy Griffith Show where Aunt Bee goes away for a while leaving Andy and Opie to fend for themselves? Then, she returns home, somewhat dismayed, to discover they had gotten along just fine without her. Of course that was not the whole truth. You'll have to go back and watch the show to learn the real shape of the matter. But the point which was being made was that all of us want to feel needed. There is just something within us that recoils from the thought that we've outlived our usefulness or discover we're no longer appreciated or wanted.

This truth also was conveyed quite comically in a cartoon drawing I found in Em Griffin's book, Making Friends which depicted a minister entering into the church office to find the church secretary sitting at her desk. He is an absolute mess. He's hobbling on crutches, has a blacken eye, is covered with bandages and has one arm in a cast. Then, with a wry smile on her face, the secretary asks: 'How did the singles group respond to your suggestion that they call themselves 'The Leftovers'?" Well, their reaction was quite evident!

None of us ever wishes to think that we have been shoved off to the side of life and forgotten. To imagine that we've become expendable is heartbreaking indeed. But it happens. Marriages - some of which have endured the passing of many years - all too often come to a tragic end as one spouse essentially says to the other, 'I don't want or need you anymore. I can be happier without you.' Employees serve their company well for many years only to reach the day when their contracts are terminated. Someone else - someone younger - or perhaps even a machine - has been found to replace them

In this psalm, David contemplates his advancing years. With those years comes a declining strength. He's not yet a dotard, mind you, but clearly he cannot do all of which he was once capable in his younger years. Now, that fact alone is not what worries him. He is perfectly accepting of the natural passing of years, but he doesn't want God to forget him. He knows full well that the day will never come when he might grow beyond his own need for God or outlive his love for God. That goes without question. What he desires here is some confirmation - some assurance - that God will remain constant towards him and that the growing list of his infirmities will not cause God to cast him aside.

Perhaps you can identify somewhat with David. I know I certainly can. I don't get very far into my morning routine without coming face to face with my own peculiar set of age-related challenges. You should see me making my first passage down the stairs in the morning. You'd think I was a hundred years old. I do believe that there are times when my knees make more creaking sounds than the old wooden steps upon which I tread! Growing old isn't for the faint of heart, is it? And although Larry Lorenzoni has said that "Birthdays are good for you, because statistics have proven that those people who have the most of them live the longest" - still, it is a struggle for us when the strength begins to wane, the memory isn't quite as sharp as it was, the walk a little slower and the hand a little less steady (See: Eccles 12:3). So, we may ask: 'When that day comes, will God still desire me and will He still find use for me?' That's David's question.

If you have your Bible open, notice how he recalls God's tender loving care in his youthful years and how he praises the God who gave him birth and has sustained him all the days of his life (vv. 5-8). And so now, in his graying years, he longs to be reassured that this same God will continue to care for him, bless him, -- and perhaps even more importantly - desire to employ him still in kingdom service. Is that a desire that you share?

I've always found it rather sad to watch older church members withdraw themselves too soon and too needlessly from active participation in the life of their church and from active service unto the Lord. Too easily are their infirmities used as an excuse to become a hermit or recluse. Voluntarily they shut themselves up in their fortresses of misery and complain about how the world and their church have left them behind. David isn't making excuses here. Okay, so what if he can't do all he once could do! So what if it takes him longer to get someplace or if he forgets stuff or if he misplaces things and can't find them! So what! Does that mean that he is no longer of any value? Should any of these things warrant God's rejection of him? Absolutely not!

And so he prays: "Even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation and your power to all who are to come." Do you see what's happening? David refocuses his attention on what is still attainable in his remaining years. He sets a goal and determines that he (by God's grace) will press forward to achieve it. He will not stop. He will not sideline himself. He will not quit. Like the Apostle Paul who wrote: "Forgetting what lies behind I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" - David asks that God will strengthen him for a similar purpose. Now, what does God yet have for you to do?