|April 2, 2019
By Mark Tjepkema
Psalm 71 (NKJV):
5 For you are my hope, O Lord God;
you are my trust from my youth. …
16 I will go in the strength of the Lord God;
I will make mention of your righteousness, of yours only.
17 O God, You have taught me from my youth;
and to this day I declare your wondrous works.
18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I declare your strength to this generation,
your power to everyone who is to come.
Read the full psalm.
It was during our morning staff meeting that one of our team members blurted out, “I feel marginalized.” The term was new to me, but, as we stunned chaplains listened attentively, we learned that our colleague felt unrecognized and unappreciated, and from that day forward, we endeavored to let her know that she was a gifted chaplain and a viable part of our ministry.
Personally, I had not been plagued with that feeling until I retired. Then, I learned what it felt like to be marginalized, for as the phone quit ringing and the beeper quit going off, I felt like I was no longer needed; there was a void in my life. So, I turned to my go-to psalm, namely, Psalm 71. It was there, interestingly enough, that I found comfort—yes, in the Scripture itself—but also in the margins, in the notes I had made, especially as I was moving in to my older years.
Let’s start with verse 16: “I will go in the strength of the Lord God,” which brought to mind the notation about God’s protection when I took a 6,768 mile Harley fundraising ride at the age of 71, for our hospital’s new Memory Care Facility. Then, in verse 18: “Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare your strength to this generation.” This brought to mind my notation, “Yet to preach? Would God bring me ‘full circle,’ to where I started?” Finally, in verse 9, at the age of 78, I read: “Do not cast me off in the time of old age.” As I find myself pastoring a small church part-time, even serving as the youth minister, I reflect during this season of Lent, that if one is willing to remain a willing servant, and as health allows, God will see to it that we will never be marginalized.