Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Beauty of Aging Gracefully

Years ago I had a problem with aging. I was only 22 years old. My 22nd birthday felt like it was my 40th or 50th birthday. You see, when we are small it is exciting to look forward. "I'm 6, almost 7." One looks forward to being 13 where finally, they have become a teenager. Then there is 16. You can finally get your driver's license. Oh yes, 18 and voting! Then there is the twentieth birthday. Great birthday because you are no longer counted as a 'teenager.' Finally, there comes 21. A true adult age by many people's standard.

When I turned 22 it was terrible. What was there to look forward to but growing old. All I heard was panic in the voices of the people who turned 30, or 40 or, ACK! 50!

I was a fairly new Christian. I didn't come to know the Lord personally until I was 18. But, I truly had no desire to live a life of fear. Fear of growing old. My sister (who is 9 yrs older than I) had many conversations with me regarding my outlook which really bordered on fear.

Yes, there is a fear and a reason for this fear, but I didn't need to be bound by it. It is the goal that makes the difference. The person who really vacillates is circumstance conditioned and has no point of reference for her reactions to whatever happens to her. On the other hand, the maturely flexible woman is really moving forward in the turmoil of outer changes because her reactions are determined by the inner goal of her life.

If one isn't flexible, they become brittle, rigid and break. I think of a body having rigor mortis on the inside while their bodies live on. I didn't want to be like this. I did not want to be a burden on my family or my friends.

Israel was in just such a condition as I was. (See Ezekiel 37:1-14) "...and down into the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He cause me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. And He said to me, ' Son of man, can these bone live?' and I answered, 'O Lord God, You know.' Again He said to me, 'Prophesy over these bones and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.'......"

Ezekiel prophesied as he was commanded and the bones came together into bodies, but there was no breath in them. Ezekiel prophesied again and "breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army." Now, I realize that this is a pretty gruesome picture but I do see something pictured here, and that is hope. This story was a message for the people who had given up hope for their country and for God's interest in them. I have that same Lord God, but I know even more about Him because of Jesus Christ. So I have even greater reason for hope when He promises, "I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live."

To live and keep on living there must be continuous change. This change comes in the process of renewal. This is true physically. The healthy body is being constantly renewed. This is also just as true mentally and spiritually. There is so much in God's Word about renewal of life. God never changes, but our minds must be open to new knowledge or grow stagnant. When we quit growing we begin to die. Renewal can come to anyone at any time by turning to God in faith.

God wants, with all His longing heart, to give us His best. Can you think of anything that might make your later years more livable than to know you have God's best for them? The best is yet to come for us all, if we are ready for it. To be ready means to set a goal and keep it and press on, as Paul suggests, toward that goal....our ears tuned to God's harmony, and our minds and spirits flexible enough to enter into that harmony. The only assurance we can have that we are growing toward more of life and that we are not slipping into dead ways is through a living relationship with a living Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I found the Secret of Life...Christ in me. I will never be left stranded, no matter what happens. Even though my body changes over the years (ugh) and many of my activities cease, this inner life becomes more real all the time. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:16, "Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. " For me, there is a growing security in this relationship I have with Christ.

The test of my faith comes when all of life's securities disappear. I understand that there is nothing secure in this world except Jesus Christ. So by being fixed on Him, I have nothing to fear as I move through the decades of life. His will for all of us in our maturing years is that we "be anointed with fresh oil, bear fruit in old age...and be very green" (Psalm 92).

It is God "who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle" (Psalm 103:5). No matter what my age, I am being renewed in Him. How can I be fearful when I know He is desiring the very best for me? All I want to do is cultivate and nourish my spirit, striving to know God more intimately. May my worship be more devoted and my highest priority because it is my Spirit that will continue to live through out Eternity. I desire to give God, not my leftovers, but the ripest, sweetest fruit of aging.


HeyJules said...

"Renewal can come to anyone at any time by turning to God in faith."

I'll second that thought!

jettybetty said...

Don't you think there's so many advantages to aging?
Great thoughts here.

Bob & Claire said...

This was a very comforting post as we contemplate all the upcoming changes with retirement, etc. It's hard to not fear change, and I am so thankful that we can cling to the fact that Christ never changes, and that he wants what is best for us.

Corry said...

What a beautiful post!
And I join you in that thought.

God's Grace.

Gayla said...

What wonderful thoughts, my friend. :)

crickl said...

Beautiful post and testimony!

Found you at the carnival of beauty. Hope you keep joining in! =)


Barbara said...

"I found the Secret of Life...Christ in me. I will never be left stranded, no matter what happens. "

Oh, so true!! Wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks pilot mom. Your just what I needed today. Love ya already