Ask George Dawson! This Texas grandson of a slave, born in 1898, worked from the age of twelve on a ranch tending livestock. He married at the age of twenty-eight, becoming a father the next year. What is so noteworthy about this man? Well, for 98 years he did not know how to read. In 1996, ten years after the death of his spouse, a young man working for an organization designed to teach adults how to read knocked on Dawson’s door. He was able to achieve a fourth-grade reading level and even read the Bible aloud at church services. He summed up his remarkable story by saying, “I just figured if everybody else can learn to read, I could too” (Bingham, Reader’s Digest, June 1998, p. 156).
Ask Medzhid Agayev, who was the oldest resident in Azerbaijan in 1976. He decided to retire—after 120 years as a shepherd at the age of 139! The Russian press agency in Novosti said, “He is in good health. He is thin, active and has excellent eyesight.” Perhaps he quit his job to enjoy as many of his 150 children and generations of grandchildren as he could. He was a tribute not only to longevity, but also to changing one’s life even after such a period of time as Agayev had lived. Yet, he was a baby compared to a 165-year-old man named Shirali Muslimov and a 195-year-old woman named Ashura Omarova, both reported by the Novosti press agency in 1970 as living in the Soviet Union republics of Caucasus (what today is Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia)( The Centenarian Question: Old-Age Mortality in the Soviet Union, 1897 to 1970, Lea Keil Garson,Population Studies, Vol. 45, No. 2 (Jul., 1991), p. 265).
Many Bible characters, Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 18:11-15), Barzillai (2 Sam. 17:27ff), Jacob (Heb. 11:21), Anna (Lk. 2:36), and others teach by their lives that it is nevertoo late to be servant of God. The foolish may set aside the counsel of the “gray heads” (cf. 1 Kgs. 12:6ff), but the Lord’s church today will carefully consider the wisdom of her senior saints! Age may bring limitations, but the aged are among the most precious resources we have for spiritual strength and progress! It is never too late for an elderly Christian to be a viable contributor to the life and work of the church. In fact, Paul puts such on a high pedestal (Ti. 2:1-10).
It is also never too late to become a Christian! This is true, whether one is eighteen, eighty, or any time before, between, or after. Almost is after (Acts 26:28), later is a lie (Acts 24:25), and waiting is a wager few win (Prov. 27:1).
In youth we anticipate the stability of adult life as the time when becoming a Christian will be easier. With adulthood comes, marriage, children, and job concerns, and retirement becomes a more appealing time to obey the gospel.
Three potential tragedies await those who bank on the elusive capital of tomorrow. First, old age may find one too distracted with golden year goals to make the commitment to Christ. Second, death may stand between one and the time he or she hoped to be a baptized believer. Third, Christ may come before one submits to the Lord’s plan.
However, now—being the accepted time (2 Cor. 6:2)—is not too late! Are you still breathing in and out? Is there still within you a heart soft enough to be touched by the power of the gospel? If so, it is not too late! As long as there is time and opportunity, it is never too late to do all the will of God!
Your eyes may be cloudy, a halt may slow your gait.
But as long as your soul is within you, it is never, no never too late.
The years you may have wasted, and in shame you might hesitate,
But though it be the eleventh hour, it is never, no never too late.