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Blog  /  General, Growing in the Lord, Worship  /  Shelf Life


Shelf Life

Written by: shannon  |  Found in: General, Growing in the Lord, Worship  |  34 Comments »
My Grandma & me

Have you ever felt like God was done with you?  Or maybe that your most productive and promising years were behind you or will soon come to a close?   I have.

A few months ago I was talking to a friend of mine who was helping me with some new creative ministry ideas.  He is a brilliant, people-loving, God-fearing man who loves Jesus with all his heart.  He meant only to encourage me in our conversation – of this, I am certain.  While we touched on an array of creative ideas, he used one phrase in passing that has stuck in my mind ever since.  OK, actually, it had somewhat lodged itself in my heart.

“Shelf life.”  

Yep.  Just those two words.  Harmless, right?

The problem is, we weren’t talking about rice or canned black beans.  We were talking about me.  He was gently encouraging me to keep in mind that I won’t be a worship leader forever, and to spread my wings in other areas of my gifting so that I’m prepared for the day when I must “transition.”   I so respect his honesty and foresight, but I gulped hard when he said it.

Now, I promise you I’ve never envisioned myself as an eighty year old woman up on stage jammin’ on my keyboard and singing out the latest Hillsong tune.  (somebody please stop me, if I dare try, unless I’m on a cruise ship on vacation doing karaoke!) Let alone do I imagine that I will be holed up in a recording studio for hours and months on end, like I am now, drinking Metamucil between sessions.

But I’ve never had words feel so definitive.  So black and white.  So….unavoidable.

Shelf life.  According to Webster it means “the length of time for which an item remains usable, fit for consumption, or sellable.”

Fast forward six months and, without me even realizing it, I had let those two words marinate in my spirit.  I had mentioned them to a couple close friends, seeking consolation.  I had begun to imagine myself signing up for nursing school, which has always been my back-up plan.  (as if God needs a back-up plan)

But the truth is,  I DO get it.  I get that each one of us transitions from season to season.  Who we were last year is not who we are today or who we will be tomorrow.  And that’s a good thing.  But I believe these seasons to be gentle.  The ebb and flow of these transitions is like the exchange between a stream and a river and a river to an ocean.  The mingling is gradual, almost imperceivable.  And the current never stops.  They just flow one into another.

You see, God is not the Great Grocer in the Sky, checking expiration dates and suddenly tossing out those who are not young enough, hip enough or good enough.  And we are not like old fruit that, when it gets a little too ripe, gets thrown into the pile that is used for “concentrated juices” or other such less fresh fruit callings.

This morning I stumbled upon a verse that encouraged me when I realized that I am not alone in this wrestling with the idea of a shelf life.  In Psalm 7:9 David himself says to the Lord, “And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside.  Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing.”  And then again in verse 18, he says, “Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.”

And God answered David’s prayer.  In Acts 13: 36 it is said of David’s life, “David, after he had served the purpose of God in His own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers…”

David’s life was fully utilized, fully purposeful, and fully relevant til the day he laid down to die.  And not a day sooner or later.

And so it is with us.  We may  not  be doing in 20 or 30 years the same thing we are doing today.  Raising children will pass. Worship leading (that is, for a congregation) will pass.  Our less able bodies may not run marathons.  Our eyes might be unable to thread a needle.  But our value never decreases with time.  Oh, if our culture and generation could get this.  What we will be doing as an older woman or man is of no less purpose than what we did in our seeming “prime.”

God doesn’t throw us out, get tired of us, give us a Plan B because we’re all washed up and not hip enough.  No.  As long as we pursue Him and seek to honor Him with our lives, He will use every ounce of us in deep, God-glorifying purpose until He takes us home.

Shelf Life?

I don’t think so.

Join the conversation….”Have you ever believed a similar lie?  If so, what was it and how did you overcome it?  (or how are you working with God to overcome it now?)”  Please add your voice to this post… 



pics Shannon