Pastor Tim: Innocence & Experience

The Rev Tim Smith, pastor at Hele Road Baptist Church in Torquay. Photo: Contributed

The Rev Tim Smith, pastor at Hele Road Baptist Church in Torquay. Photo: Contributed - Credit: Archant

I don’t know whether you’ve had the same experience, but in recent years I’ve noticed that police men and women are getting younger!   

It’s an observation that isn’t confined to our local law enforcement officers either. The people I come across in all walks of life – doctors, bus drivers, teachers, football referees, and even church ministers, appear to me to be predominantly younger than I recall back in the days of my own youth.   

And following the events in Flushing Meadow last weekend, I now need to add to that youthful list, title-winning British tennis players, because Emma Raducanu at 18 years of age, has made history in becoming the first player ever to win a Grand Slam title having come through the qualifying rounds.  

In the opinion of the experts, such as former players Martina Navratilova, Pat Cash and Tim Henman, Raducanu’s achievement is nothing short of astounding. “Emma’s victory is absolutely incredible and has changed the landscape of British sport and world tennis,” said Henman of the achievement of the new British female number one.   

At the other end of the sporting age spectrum last weekend, was Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored two goals when making his second debut for Manchester United at the grand old age of 36.   

To many of us, who wish we were still the thirty side of forty, the Portuguese playmaker still seems pretty young. But when you realise that the average age of retirement for a professional footballer is 35, Ronaldo’s desire and ability to still ply his trade at the very top of his profession is no less remarkable than Raducanu’s performance.   

But the United striker’s return to Old Trafford was eclipsed in the sporting age stakes last week, when the man who has won more American Football Super Bowl titles, 44 year old Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarter back Tom Brady, began a remarkable 22nd season of playing, by leading his team to a narrow two-point victory over the Dallas Cowboys.   

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According to what I read in my Bible, neither youthful inexperience nor the ravages of father time, need be a barrier to any person’s usefulness as a Christian disciple. The Scriptures document the exploits of both young and old.   

When David, later to be king, was still in his teens, he went out to confront the enemy giant Goliath, whilst the rest of his countrymen, all older and better equipped, were incapacitated by fear.  

Goliath mocked David for his lack of years and seeming inadequacy; but one “stone to the forehead” later, and the giant was defeated.   

Moses was 80 years of age and had been looking after sheep for the previous 40 years, when God appointed him to the task of leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.  

Another person of advancing years, Sarah, the wife of Abraham, was 90 years-old when she was told that she was going to play her part in the fulfilment of God’s promises and become pregnant. It seemed so ridiculous to her that Sarah’s first response was to laugh. But within a year, her son Isaac, whose name means “laughter”, was born.   

By way of contrast, Mary was possibly as young as 14, but no older than 18, when she gave birth to Jesus in a Bethlehem stable. The message of God’s word is clear:  Whether you’re as old and wise as Cristiano Ronaldo, or as young and carefree as Emma Raducanu, you are equally valued by the Lord and have a part to play in the story of Salvation.   

And the Bible has words of encouragement for all, whatever your age. “Don’t let people look down on you because you are young; see that they look up to you because you are an example to them in your speech and behaviour”, says 1 Timothy 4:12.   

And the prayer of an elderly saint in Psalm 71:18 is, “Now that I am old and grey, don’t forsake me, Lord. Give me time to tell this new generation (and their children too) about all your mighty miracles.” 

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo - Credit: Dan Weir/Pinnacle