Full of Sap - Senior Adult Sunday

Bible Book: Psalms  92 : 12-14
Subject: Senior Adults; Christian Living; Life, Blessed

A hundred years ago James Eves painted four pictures called "The Four Seasons of Life". In these pictures life is likened to the four seasons of the year-spring, summer, autumn and winter.

The first picture is "Childhood-The Spring of Life." It is a beautiful country home scene. In the background is a lovely home. In the yard children are at play. Spring flowers are beginning to appear. Trees are covered with tender, immature foliage. Birds are voicing their songs through their soft, feathered throats.

The second picture represents "Youth-The Summer of Life." The scene has changed from spring to summer. The children we saw playing are now in the youth time of their life. The boy, having grown to young manhood, is walking arm in arm with a girl down a lovely lane. In the background is a church spire. They have just celebrated their wedding. The grain in the field is turning gold for harvest. It is the summer of life.

The next picture represents "Middle Age-The Autumn of Life." Once more the scene has changed. Now the leaves are falling from the trees. Grain is all harvested. The man has just returned from a business trip. There are evidences of prosperity. Four rapidly growing children rush out to meet him. A dog playfully jumps about the man's feet. The wife is in the act of handing the youngest born into the arms of the husband. It is the autumn of life.

Then we see the last picture. It represents "The Latter Years-The Winter of Life." The old man and the old woman sit in a room before an open fire. A cat is curled upon the hearth. A boy, evidently a grandson, sits on a hassock at the feet of the elderly gentleman. He is listening with upturned face. Doubtless, it was some boyhood experience that the elderly gentleman was sharing with the boy. Through the windows we can see the snow. It has mantled the earth with its white blanket, the color of the hair of the elderly couple. It is the wintertime of life.

As we look in upon this fourth scene, we see not a cold winter scene, but a warm crackling fire, intimate relationships, and a sense of a quiet peace. These two people are representative of 22% of Southern Baptists who are over 60 years of age.

I. Vitality And Productivity

These retired adults are you, representing thousands of years of accumulated experience and wisdom. Because of all that has gone before, you are today filled with vitality and productivity. Your potential for Christian service today is beyond the scope of our imagination. You have held the highest executive positions of the land. You have literally caused this country to move forward in spite of seemingly insurmountable crises: two world wars, Korea, Vietnam and the depression. You are the school teachers and the parents who shaped the lives of responsible young adults in today's leadership positions. You are the "righteous" referred to by the Psalmist, the righteous who have been planted in the house of the Lord. Your leadership in our churches has caused Southern Baptists, over 22,000,000 strong, to be the greatest evangelical body in the world, with a missionary heart bent on preaching Jesus to the world.

You have taught the scriptures to the preachers in our churches. I know that I will never forget Mrs. Skinner from my home church in Montgomery, Alabama who taught me as a junior boy. When I returned after seminary to minister in that church as the Associate Pastor, I was honored to be taught by her again as I stood by her hospital bed. Death was near. She had endured a terrible battle with cancer. She said to me, "You know Bob, everyday with Jesus is sweeter than the day before. Everyday with Jesus I love Him more and more. Jesus saves and keeps me and He's the one I'm living for. Everyday with Jesus is sweeter than the day before."

It's really hard to believe, but here you are in the retirement years of life. Isn't it amazing how fast the years fly by. When you were a child the years came and went slowly, but now they fly by. The longer you live the more rapidly the years pass. That's not just an illusion. It's a fact. In view of the fact that one year in the life of a two year old represents 50% of his life, whereas one year in the life of a 50 year old represents only 2% of his life. This is why it seems to go faster the longer we live; each year becomes a smaller percentage of the whole life. For a child, even one month is a significant portion of his entire block of experience.

With the years passing so swiftly, some senior adults tend to become depressed and withdrawn. Often times, forced retirement contributes to this feeling of uselessness or low self-esteem. Don't sell yourself short. Because of your experience and accumulated wisdom, you have more to give than anyone else! The Psalmist proclaims that you can bring forth fruit in old age-you are "full of sap".

One year my wife brought home a crape myrtle tree given to her by a friend. Apparently the friend was not planning to keep the tree when she dug it out of the ground, for she had cut all of the roots from the tree. There remained only a nub at the base of the tree where the roots used to be. She discovered that we were trying to establish a new yard, so she gave the tree to my wife. When Janice brought that thing home in the back of the station wagon, I just shook my head. I said, "Honey, that tree will never grow. It needs roots to grow." She insisted that she had wanted a crape myrtle tree, now she had one and she wanted it planted. I said, "But, it will not grow. It has no roots." She insisted that she wanted it planted. You know what happened. I planted the tree in the side yard right where she wanted it. As we watered that tree I felt that we might just as well be watering the power

pole at the corner of our lot. By this time all of the leaves had fallen off of the tree. Any casual observer could tell you that the tree was stone dead. We entered the winter months, leaving the tree where it was. Spring came and the trees in our neighborhood began to bud and soon leaves were on all of the trees. Not the crape myrtle. One day as I came into the yard, I took out my pocket knife and cut off a little bit of the bark at the base of the tree. I found that the tree was green and full of sap. Surprised, I told my wife that it looked like the tree had life in it. Sure enough, in a few weeks the tree budded and during July and August it bloomed its heart out. The tree was full of sap and that could mean only one thing-it was full of life. That's what the Psalmist meant. You are full of life, still able to produce fruit.

Today ought to be the greatest day in your life. You are alive, full of sap and vitality and have all of the accumulated wisdom of yesterday to supply the world with dynamic and positive leadership.

George Bernard Shaw was still writing plays at 90. Frank Lloyd Wright was still considered the most creative architect of his time at the age of 90 Michelangelo did some of his best paintings after the age of 80. Oliver Wendall Holmes at the age of 90 resigned from the Supreme Court. When President Franklin Roosevelt paid Holmes a visit, he found Holmes reading Plato. The President inquired: "Why Plato?" Holmes replied, "To improve my mind, Mr. President."

Henry Van Dyke wrote: "I shall grow old, but Never lose life's zest,

Because the road's last turn, Will be the best."

Robert Browning wrote: "Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.

The last of life for which the first was planned. Trust God. See All, nor be afraid."

You have more to offer your church and your Lord today than you've ever had in all of your life. Having more to offer, you also find that you are without the requirements of a job so that you now finally have time to do work for the Lord-or at least an opportunity to readjust your priorities.

The New Testament places a strong emphasis upon continuing to serve the Lord. Zechariah and Elizabeth were "Advanced in years" (Luke 1:7). Simon was evidently an older person (Luke 2:26, 29). Anna was 84 years old and continued to serve the Lord (Luke 2:36-38).

I believe that Delma Warner, a retired friend of mine, had it exactly right when she said, "The things the church does for us enrich our lives, but what we do for others enriches them and us. There is no privilege without responsibility. As the church provides for us, we ought to provide for others. Many senior adults' problems stem from thinking too much about self and not enough about others." According to the Psalmist, you are full of sap and by all rights should be full of vitality and productivity.

II. Spirituality

Being full of sap means not only being full of productivity, but also of spirituality. Those of you who have grown up across the years knowing the Lord have a depth of spirituality that contributes much to your churches. Because of your experience as a Christian, you have much upon which to draw as a Christian witness. The strongest witness comes from a person who can say: "I understand. I have been there, and I have discovered that no one answers the questions of life better than the Lord Jesus Christ."

Oftentimes, the older non-Christian is given up as lost because he did not receive Jesus Christ in the tenderness of his youth. I encourage you to remember that witnessing to those in your own age group can still be effective and spirituality is still a possibility though a person has remained a non- Christian through the earlier years of his life.

In a revival a few years back, the pastor said to the evangelist, "There are two brothers that I want us to see. They are elderly. One is 60 and the other is 73. The younger was a bachelor, the older married a second time to a deeply dedicated, praying wife." The visit was made. The 60 year old said, "While I was in the hospital, the pastor came to see me. He told me about Jesus. I accepted Him, but I have never made it public." Asked if he would come to the meeting and confess his faith in Jesus, he said, "Yes, tonight." He came and never missed another service.

The older-a 73-year-old man, showed no interest whatsoever. He came to one service with his wife. The evangelist was asked to return the next year. Asking about both men, he was told of the faithfulness of the younger of the two. On Monday evening of that week he went to the home of the non-Christian. The non-Christian had a sense of pride that had prevented his admission of a need for Christ, but the life of his brother and his wife's prayers had softened him. Simply saying, "You know what the Lord wants you to do, are you willing?" He said, "Yes, I'll come tonight." He came. He was baptized at 74 years of age. Before another revival meeting the evangelist returned for his funeral. A heart attack had ended his life.

One of the most glorious experiences of my ministry was to see the salvation of Ernest Stovall. For years, Ernest Stovall had known the claims of Christ upon his life but had declined to receive Jesus as his Savior. As I stood next to his hospital bed, Ernest, who was knocking at death's door, received Christ as his Savior. The Lord allowed Ernest to leave the hospital and I had the glorious privilege of baptizing him. As he came up out of the water he said, "Why did I wait so long? I am so happy. I wish I had done this years ago."

Being full of sap means being full of vitality and productivity and spirituality.

III. Reality

While today finds you full of productivity and spirituality I hope that it also finds you full of reality.

Far too many senior adults spend their time living on conditional terms. They say-"If only" and "What if". The words "if only" persist in looking to the past and worrying about those things that have already happened. This can destroy your happiness. The words "what if" look to the future and express worry over what might happen in the days to come.


In Matthew, Jesus taught us to let the day be sufficient unto the day. In other words, don't worry about yesterday and don't worry about tomorrow, those things will take care of themselves. Concern yourself only with today and don't worry about those things that you can't do anything about or those things that could happen. Don't live in the conditional, live in reality.

The Psalmist says that you are full of sap. Indeed you are! Being full of sap, you are full of vitality and productivity, spirituality and reality. God bless you as you serve Him today.