“The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.” Proverbs 20:29.
Preamble – THE PARABLE OF THE CANOPIES
It was a Thursday.
The date was August 29, 2019.
The location was in Jerusalem Church of the Lord International (Ile-Ewe) in Ado Ekiti.
The time was just few minutes past six (6) in the evening as we were about to round off the 4th day of the fasting and prayer on the mountain during the 33rd edition of My God Never Fails in Year 2019.
I was with the Primate to check her welfare when a heavy downpour started. It was followed by a mighty wind and the next thing I heard was a loud crashing of something I couldn’t place in my mind at the time. The Primate started praying, calling upon God to keep everyone safe. I took my permission to go outside to the convention ground to see what was happening.
On getting to the convention ground, the massive canopy erected by the youths was flat on the floor. Apart from only one canopy directly in front of the Mercy ground, all the other canopies were also on the ground. Children were screaming, the elderly people took refuge in the church auditorium and the Mercy ground but a group of people stood their grounds against the rain and the rushing wind! At least, three individual rumour peddlers were going about with distressing news about the disaster they imagined in their evil hearts when the canopies fell but the God of Iya – Ewe put them to utter shame. Our youths rose to the occasion, through the combination of their internal and external strengths, the canopies were quickly restored and the glory of God manifested for all eyes to see. To cap it all, no one was wounded not to talk of being killed. The prayer of our mother the Primate was answered. Praise God!
I will like to divide my speech into the following 3 sub-headings:
- The strength within
- The strength without and
- The glory revealed
The Strength within
The spiritual and godly young David was a youth with apparent very little external strength compared with the ungodly, uncircumcised Goliath who has been a soldier from his youth. When David was confronted with the massive, muscular man with a terrifying look called, “Goliath of Gath”, David invoked a tsunami-type internal strength by calling upon the name of the Lord of Hosts. He says, “Thou come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.” Although Goliath was physically strong, stronger than David but he learnt in a hard way that the battle is not to the strong. Ecclesiastes 9:11.
He is weak indeed who looks very strong externally but weak in the spirit; he is strong indeed who looks weak externally but very strong in his spirit.
The youths called on their internal strength, who is JEHOVAH GOD, to be able to bring up again the fallen canopies. The “Goliath” of the mighty wind and rain was overcome through prayers and power of the Holy Ghost.
The Strength without
A natural characteristic expected of young people is the possession of strength that is above and beyond those possessed by children and the elderly. A youth that is physically weak has lost a greater percentage of the ability for him/her to be successful. It is at the time of your youth that you can channel all your physical energy to carry the burden that will usher you to a future of rest. These burdens may include, learning a trade, studying at school or developing your natural talents in sport or in other venture.
Prophet Jeremiah says in the book of Lamentation, “It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.” (Lamentation 3:27). Learning a vocation is hard, studying is a hard work and training for excellence in sport demands a lot of energy and discipline. If you do not bear your burden when you are young, you will be most likely miserable when you are old.
My late father used to tell me, “Won o ki n fi oke siwaju simi.” Meaning, “It does not make sense to rest and relax whilst you still have important undone tasks ahead of you.” If you labour hard as a youth and you deploy your energy to productive ventures, then, a future of rest awaits you.
The physical strengths of our youths, supported by their awesome internal strengths brought the canopies back to their useful positions.
The Glory Revealed (“The beauty of old men is the gray head”)
The New International Version (NIV) rendered Proverbs 16 verse 31 beautifully as follows, “Gray hair is a crown of splendour; it is attained in the way of righteousness.”
The Bible says that grey hair is a crown on the head of aged people. That is absolutely indisputable. When I was growing up, I was always fascinated by grey hairs on men’s head. However, apart from being fascinated by the sight of it, I always adore seeing grey hairs on the heads of men and women serving God. WOW – it is a beautiful diadem, it is a crown of glory and honour.
When you see an aged person with grey hairs who is not wise, who is wicked and has no regard for God, their grey hairs become a thing of shame and dishonour.
In conclusion therefore, my beloved youths, I implore you to continue on the way of righteousness, to continue to do good deeds, to serve humanity, for therein you serve God also. When you grow old, the youths at that time will behold the crown of splendour on your heads and when you die, you shall receive a crown of glory that fades not away. 1 Peter 5:4.
Thank you very much for helping to raise the banner of righteousness in JCLI.
Bishop Roland Ayeni
5th May, 2020.