“Well, it is a pleasant sight to see young people actively engaged in doing good!” said an old lady, as she watched from her parlor window some of her grand-children setting forth on their weekly errands of mercy to the poor and afflicted.
Yes; it was a pleasant sight to look upon these youthful Christians, full of health and energy, devoting their time and their talents to the service of God and the welfare of their fellow-creatures; and yet the old lady sighed as she finished her sentence, and did not seem quite comfortable. Why? Listen to what she is saying now:
“Ah, I was once as busy as any of them. I could take a class in the Sunday-school, and visit the poor, and collect for the missionary society; but now I am forced to be idle and useless. My strength and my senses are gradually forsaking me; and I am but a worn-out and unprofitable servant. But come, I must not complain; I have had my share in these good works in bygone days, and I must be content to lie by now and let others labor; for I am too old to be of any use.”
Was the old lady right? She meant what she said, and she meant well. She was trying to bear with patience and resignation her unavoidable exclusion from the charitable engagements of her young relatives; but old people as well as young sometimes have mistaken ideas; and it is possible that the old lady was not quite so clear upon the subject of Christian usefulness as we should like our readers to be.
It is true that the aged cannot work in God’s vineyard as they used to do before infirmity or ill-health disabled them for active service — but still they are not too old to be useful.
Too old to be useful! Such words are a libel upon their characters — an insult to their capabilities. It cannot be that any Christian is continued upon earth who has not something to do — as well as to suffer for his Master. Look at the closing days of the venerable Eliot, the first missionary to the American Indians. On the day of his death, when in his eightieth year, he was found teaching the alphabet to an Indian child at his bedside. “Why not rest from your labors, now?” said a friend. “Because,” said the venerable man, “I have prayed to God to make me useful in my sphere, and he has heard my prayer; for now that I can no longer preach, he leaves me strength enough to teach this poor child this alphabet.”
Eighty years of age and bed-ridden! Who after this can plead their inability to do good? Who will not rather gather up their remaining time and talents and devote them to God’s service? Like the widow’s mite, your offering may seem poor and small; you are almost ashamed to cast it into the treasury; but bring it without hesitation — nay with gladness. What could give you more? it is your all; and your feeble efforts will meet with kind and gracious acknowledgment from a loving Savior, who said, “She has done what she could!”