Many people live their whole lives without God. They set this course for themselves in their youth and they follow it consistently to the end. They ignore any questions concerning Jesus Christ and eternity and manage their life entirely as they please. Some people also throw all moral scruples overboard and give themselves over to a reckless pursuit of pleasures. Others may live a highly respectable life, working hard and enjoying whatever blessings come their way, but leaving God out of the equation.

            Some people try to develop their own philosophy of life, borrowing from various sources and adding their own conclusions. They may even criticize Christianity as an offensive and harmful way of life, insisting that their own position is sufficient for both life and death.

            Other people do not wish to reject Christianity, but neither do they reach any serious commitment to the Christian faith. They may attend church occasionally, insist on a church wedding, send their children to Sunday School or some equivalent Church group, and generally show respect for the Christian position. They would be the last ones to knock Christianity, but they seem to be satisfied with just a small dose of religion.

            All of these people eventually become old – and then what? For those who have excluded Jesus Christ from their lives, it is not easy to be old. Those who lived their lives in reckless pursuit of pleasures, ignoring God’s Word and ways, often will feel debased and wasted. Sadly in many cases, this is not just a feeling but a horrible reality.

            In old age they have lost the ability to enjoy what they pursued so eagerly when younger, and they find that their old pattern of living affords them no pleasure at all.

            Their feelings alternate between pain and disgust: after a life of hectic enjoyment there is only emptiness left. Even people who have lived respectable lives, will know emptiness when the evening of life comes. Their so-called respectability cannot answer the questions which they now face. For as death approaches, fear increases. Will there be someone to care for me when ill? If I die, what happens next? And so the questions go on and on.

            Previously, each day was occupied with the busy demands of work and family. There was not much time left to think about the purpose of life.

            A happy home, a good income, and good health, left them feeling entirely satisfied and gave them a sense of assurance for the future. But in old age most of these external supports are torn away and what is left then? And what will the end be like?

            If now and then they are aware of an inner unrest or feel guilty because they have rejected the Christian faith, they only try to make themselves more secure behind a bulwark of old prejudices, and assure themselves that their own views are the right ones.

            They try to reinforce their positions by drawing on every conceivable offence against reason in the Christian faith, and by condemning all confessing Christians as fault-finding and self-righteous hypocrites.

            The people who through the years have been satisfied with mere religious sentiments may become more and more religious as they grow older. They may attend church more often, read the Bible and devotional books, and say their prayers quietly.

            But they do not arrive at any personal commitment and faith. They honestly admit that their life has not been entirely what it ought to be, but they count on the grace of God to supply what they are lacking. In this way they try to find peace. But unless there is a real facing up to sin in their lives, repenting of that sin and embracing the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour for all eternity, there can be no peace!

            We praise God for those who have experienced the crisis of conversion in the early part of their lives, for it will affect their whole life from that time on. But the question now is this: Is it possible for an elderly person too to experience such a conversion? We should not take the answer for granted. The Master was once asked this question: “How can a man be born when he is old?” (Jn 3:4)

            In old age our minds have become dulled. We are no longer receptive to anything that is new. We have become accustomed to a certain style of life and find it very difficult to change our views. And here we are confronted with the demand for a radical change of the inner person. Is this at all possible?

 The grace of God can never be earned. We must confess humbly that we have nothing that makes us worthy of salvation.

            There are many examples of people who arrived at a personal faith in Christ Jesus late in life. After all, it is God who does this. But if such a thing is to happen, it means that elderly people must submit willingly to a radical re-evaluation of their lives.

            They must let go any self-made philosophy of life and surrender old prejudices that stand in the way of what is new. That which is to happen will not be just an addition to what they already have. The old way must give way to the new (Col 3).

            The fundamental sin is this lack of trust in God and reliance upon self. This is the sin in which many have lived throughout all these years. And in addition there are the many evil deeds that they have committed, all the words that should never have passed their lips, all the wicked and unkind thoughts, and the many failures to do good. Elderly people who will honestly examine themselves in God’s light will not find the day of reckoning easy.

            Yet it is in such a moment that the great miracle takes place. As we confess, our whole sinful record is erased for the sake of Christ and his death on the cross. In spite of the many years spent apart from God, it is possible even in our old age to put our lives into the merciful hand of God.

            This may happen – and it has happened more than once! It is sad to see so many elderly people close their minds to this possibility and continue to live apart from God in their old age, eventually to face death in this condition. Every elderly person should take to heart the solemn warning of the prophet: “Prepare to meet your God” (Amos 4:12). In comparison with this everything else in life becomes insignificant. Do not delay, but come to the Saviour today!

– Guido Kettniss