What’s striking about the aging characters of the Star Wars saga is that they continue to fight their enemies directly on the battlefield well into their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and beyond (how old is Yoda?). That’s admirable. At a time of life when most people would either be armchair generals or at home on a dessert planet enjoying their grandkids – many of the aging Star Wars characters are blasting away at stormtroppers (Han Solo, 70-something) or dueling lightsabers with dark lords (Obi-Wan Kenobi, 70-something/Mace Windu, 50-something). Maybe these fictional characters are (ahem) modeling something for us as followers of Jesus Christ.
Put another way, a rerun of the movie Braveheart was on the other night and it was a reminder that the true unsung braveheart hero of the movie was not William Wallace. Nor was it Robert the Bruce (at the end). It was Campbell (the elderly Scottish man in his 60’s/70’s) who fought the English empire to his own bloody death with sword and shield in hand. To give your life away on the battlefield when you’re young is one thing. But to do it when you are much, much older (think of all of the choices that go into that kind of decision) is so rare that it’s like you came from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.
Many of the Old and New Testament heroes of the bible engaged directly in spiritual battle to the very end. They were flawed. But they knew that how you end is as important as the journey to get there. Abraham, Noah, Moses, Caleb, David, the Apostles Peter, Paul and John – they were all on the front lines until their deaths. The older and more spiritually mature they became the more courageously they lived out their faith. Not the opposite. As they got older they didn’t retire early from their service to God. Rather their lives became more focused around what was most important – following God and Jesus into the world and leading the fight for what is right and eternal.
Our prayer as followers of Jesus Christ should be that as we grow older, the terms “early retirement”, “idleness”, “comfort” and “reminiscing about what God did in our past” do not primarily describe our service to the Lord in our 50’s, 60’s and 70’s . We need to model for the younger generations that the older you get the more important it is to fight to the end for what (and who) matters most. We need those of us who are older and more mature in the faith to model what it looks like to fight (and perhaps die) on the battlefield. That would be a true inspiration.
“The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” [Psalm 92:12-15]