NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–“It’s not how you begin your life that counts. It’s how you end your life,” Anne Graham Lotz told more than 11,000 senior adults attending the closing session of the Third National Senior Adult Convention, April 28-30, in Nashville, Tenn.
“When someone younger looks at your life, allow them to see someone who is excited about Jesus, committed to him and totally surrendered and available for his service,” said Lotz, an internationally known speaker, founder of AnGeL Ministries and second daughter of evangelist Billy Graham and Ruth Bell Graham.
She based her message on writings from the Apostles Peter, Paul and John during the last year of their lives. She told Baptist Press the message grew out of devotionals she shared with her parents while staying with them in Montreat, N.C., and assisting her mother in recovering from surgery.
Lotz, who tries to limit her speaking schedule to one per week, agreed to address Southern Baptist senior adults despite other commitments during the week.
“I just felt very called of God to be here,” she said. “Senior adults have so much richness you don’t want them to waste.”
“What are the plans for the last years of your life?” Lotz asked the seniors, gathered at the new Nashville Arena. “Do you plan on just playing golf or playing bridge and going to the outlet malls? Have you retired, not only from your job, but from service to the Lord?
“Stay excited about Jesus,” she urged. She cited the example of Peter who, she said, “stayed excited until he saw Jesus face to face.”
Never stop learning about Christ, Lotz said, and use the unique opportunities of old age to influence others.
“When you correct and rebuke and encourage, people listen,” she said, noting the audiences for her father’s crusades include thousands of young people. “God has given you this platform for this stage in your life. Are you using it?”
Lotz cited the Apostle Paul who spent his last year in prison without material possessions before being beheaded.
“Don’t tell Paul about the health, wealth and prosperity gospel. He was committed to paying the cost until the day he died,” she said.
She acknowledged senior years often include physical pain, suffering and loneliness like the Apostle John. A people person, she said John was isolated on the island of Patmos and approaching 90, but God gave him the mission of sharing a fresh vision in the form of the New Testament Book of Revelation.
“Stop arguing and complaining about what God is allowing to come into your life,” Lotz said. “At the end of your life as a senior citizen, you may be suffering in solitude. Would you ask him to put his hand on you to use you for his service?”
Earlier, T.W. Hunt, prayer consultant who has retired from the Baptist Sunday School Board’s discipleship and family development division and from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, outlined advice from the Bible to older adults.
“According to the Bible, our senior days can be the best time of life or the worst time of life,” Hunt said. “The Bible tells us we can fail in our old age or it can be the greatest time of service to the Lord.”
Noting the Bible has 39 passages telling people how to grow old, he listed five pieces of advice:
— Since God lives beyond time, he is not impressed with age or accomplishments.
— Old people still need patience.
— At any age, persons should never forget that life is short.
— Righteousness in youth will become righteousness in old age.
— At every age, people must remain dependent on God.
The convention was attended by senior adults from 21 states and sponsored by the BSSB discipleship and family development division.