Old People Have A Lot of Baggage
At 71 years of age I will admit that I have more baggage than men who are in their 40’s. I have been married for fifty-two years so I have had more disagreements with my wife than men who have been married for ten or twenty years. I have raised four children so I have made more mistakes than someone who only has infants. I have preached thousands of sermons so I have laid more eggs than a man who has preached hundreds of sermons. I have spoken to more people at 71 than younger men which means that I have misspoken more often than a man who is younger. The truth is I have more baggage than younger a man has.
Younger men are often more appealing to us because they have less baggage. They have not had time to make as many mistakes. They have not had time to make as many enemies. They have not had time to contradict themselves as often. Young men can point to the baggage of older men and criticize them because they don’t have that much baggage of their own….YET.
Have you ever noticed that most hoarders are old people. You will seldom find someone in their 20’s or 30’s who have newspapers from 40 years ago stacked up in their home. The older you get the more likely it is that you have more things piled up. Life has a way of creating baggage.
The truth is, Bob Gray, Sr. has more baggage than Scott Gray. I have made more people mad. I have made more enemies. I have made more mistakes. I have offended more people. I have run off more church members. I have had more church battles. I have more former church members. I have lost more friends. I made more errors in judgment. I have more wrinkles. I have more aches and pains. I have more insomnia. I have more doctors appointments. The fact is that when you get old you have much more baggage.
Now you can concentrate on all our baggage or you can concentrate on other things age brings. There was a time when I was an idealist like many young men are today. There was a time when I thought I had all the answers and the old men were making all the mistakes, but time has a way of creating more baggage for all of us. However, with our baggage there comes some advantages. If you can set aside the baggage that you don’t like you may find that there are a few bags that could be a blessing to you. Let me share a few.
1. An older person has the baggage of experience. I have had plenty of experience. If you could listen to an older person you could learn a lot from their experience. Don’t be so quick to judge them by what they said twenty or thirty years ago. Judge them by what they have learned through experience. It may come to surprise you but the older I get the more often I disagree with my younger self. Sometimes people say, “That’s not the way you used to do it.” I want to reply, “Yes, because I am not who I used to be.” Experience has taught me many lessons. You should not compare an old man to what he was twenty years ago. He has learned and you can learn from him.
2. An older person has the baggage of mistakes. I have made far more mistakes than my sons. Of course I have pastored longer. I have counseled far more people. I have preached more sermons. I have been through far more battles. My mistakes are far greater than most young preachers. Now you can point to my mistakes if you choose or you could allow me to teach you the lessons I learned from my mistakes. One of the reasons Jack Hyles was a great man is because he did not accentuate the mistakes of older men. He allowed himself to learn not just from their success but even from their mistakes.
3. An older person has the baggage of heartache. I know heartache. I have felt the sting throughout my life with people I loved the most who have turned against me. It is part of being in the ministry. Deacons who I won to Christ have turned against me. People who I counseled and helped save their marriages have turned against me. I have known heartache. I have something I can offer because of the baggage of heartaches.
4. An older person has the baggage of regrets. This is going to sound a bit strange. Regrets can be a blessing to those who are younger. I do not live my life in regret, but given the opportunity I could teach young people things that I would be different if they would listen. I could tell them things that I wish I could do over again. I don’t walk around spreading my regret however I am willing to allow my regrets to be a warning to others to do things a little differently in certain areas.
5. An older person has the baggage of time. I have surpassed the time that I have been allotted by one year already. My threescore and ten has already gone past. My life is now a day at a time doing what I can with the time that I have left. I have far more time behind me that I have ahead of me. I have less time to spend with my wife. I have less time to spend with my children. I realize that my days are numbered. I say that not sadly but truthfully. It may be wise for young people to tap into the realization that older people have of the value of time.
Young person, you will not believe what I am about to say. You may pay lip service to what I’m about to say, but you don’t believe it. You will be old someday. Mentally speaking you know that is true, but you don’t really believe it. You see, I do believe it. I didn’t believe it when I was 40. I didn’t believe that one day my parents would be gone. I didn’t believe that one day I would bury my mom and dad. I didn’t believe that my wife would one day be an invalid. You see time has a way of teaching you its value.
6. An older person has the baggage of faithfulness. Which would you prefer, perfection or faithfulness? We are not going to receive rewards from God because we did everything perfectly. We are going to be rewarded because we were faithful. God is not going to judge the baggage of my mistakes. God is going to judge my faithfulness.
I have plenty of baggage filled with mistakes I have made, but I have been married to one woman for 52 years, I have been faithful in the ministry for 45 years, I have been faithful to win souls weekly for decades, and I have been faithful to my Lord. Now you may decide to judge me for my imperfect baggage, but the Lord will judge me for my faithfulness. Perhaps we should look at old people for how faithful, not perfect they have been.
Yes old people have baggage. Our baggage is not necessarily appealing. Our baggage is not necessarily something at which younger people like to look. Our baggage is not something young people even want to bear. That is why old people often get shoved aside. Younger people don’t always want the baggage that comes with us. I have felt that from time to time. I’ve tried to understand it.
I remember Dr. Jack Hyles fearing as he was getting older that he would no longer going to be wanted. In some cases it was true, and he felt it. Now I am feeling it. There is nothing I can do. The fact is I am old and with age comes more baggage. Don’t avoid me because of my baggage. Accept the bad baggage so you can enjoy the good.