Heart’s Cry: Listen and Go
By Darlene Winans
I’m 57. Well, I’ve actually been 57 for two years. If you’re wondering my secret to stopping age progression, it lies in the inability to remember my age. Or in the inability to do the math; with a birthday late in the year, I take the current year, subtract my birth year, but forget to subtract 1 because my birthday hasn’t happened yet. Last year, I went around telling people I was 57, but when my birthday came in November, I did the math and I was really just turning 57. It’s weird, I know. Now I understand why people much older than me say, “I’ll be 90 in July.” They’re just tired of doing the math.
It’s strange getting older; we find that our minds think we’re much younger than our bodies will allow. People my age talk about retirement – A LOT. But before we’re put out to pasture or ride off into the sunset in blazes of glory, let’s look at what the Bible has to say about people who are, let’s say, of a certain age. The Bible calls them “elders.”
In Exodus 3, Moses, a man of 80 years himself, sees the burning bush and receives God’s call to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt into the Promised Land. God not only tells Moses what to say to Pharaoh, but He tells him what to say to His people, the Israelites. In Exodus 3:16, God says to Moses, “Go, assemble the elders of Israel…” And He tells Moses what to say to the elders. Verse 18: “The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt . . .” Then, God outlines what they are to say to the king.
There are two things I want to point out about this verse: elders listen and elders go. Young people (and I say that as a broad term because there is always someone older than you), when you have something on your mind or your heart, or a decision you have to make, who do you go to? You go to an elder, someone with more wisdom or experience than you. Sometimes we’re afraid to go to elders – afraid they’ll be critical and tear our ideas apart, afraid they won’t listen. But God says, “the elders will listen to you.”
Remember I said, “elders listen and elders go.” The elders went with Moses to declare to Pharaoh, “Let my people go.” Moses didn’t go by himself to Pharaoh, the elders went with him. Elders who are reading this now (and I say that as a broad term because there is always someone younger than you), God has plans for you. Elders go! Elders, maybe you are thinking about a new role in your church or community, about a transition in your career, or about going on a short-term mission trip. Listen to what God said to Moses, “Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt . . .” Elders aren’t put out to pasture. Elders don’t exit into the sunset. Elders go!
When I was 53 (and I really was 53, I did the math), God rekindled a desire I had in my heart since I was a child: to go on a mission trip. I went to Guatemala on an ANM-sponsored trip (Advancing Native Missions). With God’s help and a lot of prayer I conquered my fears and all my excuses, and I went, because elders listen and elders go. After that first trip, God gave me a dream of women on the mission field praying for someone to come and encourage them. I found I was able to that when I went on an IWM-sponsored trip (International Women’s Ministries). I went because elders listen and elders go. Now I’m the Director for International Trips for IWM because I listened to God first, and then to my elders, and I went.
What is God calling you to do? Whatever it is, listen to the wisdom of elders, and listen to God. And, as an example to those younger than you, GO.