Growing Old Gracefully

Age is relative, isn’t it? In our own way, we still search for the fountain of youth. We resist the aging process by camouflaging the spots and wrinkles. Still, aging continues its relentless march.

God places a premium on age. God intends for us to be useful and active in our golden years:

• God ask Noah to build an ark when he was 400 years old.

• Moses was 80 when he lead Israel out of Egypt.

• Proverbs says: “Gray hair is a crown of splendor.”

• We hear Job declare: “wisdom comes with age and with length of days comes understanding.”

David writes: “Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till l declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”

Paul addresses the aging process: “Though your body is decaying, the mind is renewed daily. We are working toward an eternal glory. For we know when this earthly body is aged out, God has a body for us not made with hands, eternal in heaven.”

Truth is, wherever we are in the aging process is okay, because that is exactly where God wants us to be. And for us to waste our time, energy, money, and talent attempting to change that state, that season of life, is not God-pleasing. Being dissatisfied with our age only frustrates us, and frustrates His purpose in our life. God had a purpose for us when we were young and He has a purpose for us now that we are older. It’s ridiculous to attempt to go back and relive an old purpose.

How do we grow old gracefully?

Understand change. If we want everything to stay the same, life is going to be continually miserable. The senior citizen’s world is full of change. Now change is not always bad. But when you pack too much change into a short space, it can be devastating. Our purpose has changed. The ambitions of climbing career ladders, and plans for raising and educating the children are over. There are health changes, financial changes, changes in our energy level. There are some things we can no longer do, and shouldn’t try to do. We must not allow these to overwhelm us.

We need to lose ourselves in something bigger than we are. One of the problems in retirement is that attention is turned to self. The focus is no longer on: the children, career, church, but directed inward. This creates serious problems at any age. John Gardner, one time Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, said, “People can achieve meaning, only if they have a commitment to something larger than their own little egos; be it family, fellowmen, careers or religion.” l think Jesus gives us the answer: Serve Others!! There’s hospital and hospice visits to be made, nursing home patients that need encouragement. Think about volunteering at one of these institutions. There are numerous ministries at church that can use our expertise.

Don’t kill today with yesterday’s guilt. Some of us spend our time grieving over our mistakes we’ve made until we kill the joy of today. We spoil the golden years with resentment from the past. Sure, all of us have made mistakes, serious ones, but there is no reason to allow these to rob us of today’s joy. “Forgetting what is past I press on to the goal, the high calling of Jesus Christ.”

Will to die young. Douglas McArthur had this essay on his wall: “Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind.” Grandma Moses was still painting when she was 101. Oliver Wendall Homes was still serving as a Supreme Court Justice at 90. Conrad Adenauer was Chancellor of West Germany at 87. Noah Webster was 70 when he published his dictionary. Golda Myeir became Prime Minister of Israel when she was 71. Paul Southern of Abilene Christian was still teaching college in his nineties. Tillit S. Teddlie was still writing church music and preaching when he died at 101. Mother Teresa died serving others at age 87.

God has providentially brought each of us to this point, and this place in our life for a specific purpose. The question is will we allow Him to use us for that purpose? Indeed! The best is yet to come!

Randall Caselman
Bella Vista Church of Christ
Bentonville, AR

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