Growing old, like taxes, is a fact we all must face. Now, you're not going to get me to declare when growing up stops and growing old starts—not on your life! But there are some signs we can read along life's journey that suggest we are entering the transition (how's that for diplomacy?).
Physically, the aging "bod" puts on the brakes. You begin to huff and puff when you used to rip and zip. You prefer to sit more than stand . . . to watch more than to do . . . to forget your birthday rather than remember it! Mentally, the aging brain longs for relief. You can't remember like you used to, and you don't respond like you ought to. You start thinking more about yesterday and tomorrow and less about today. Emotionally, you undergo strange fears and feelings you once swore would "never occur in me," such as:
- Being negative, critical, and downright ornery at times.
- Being reluctant to let those who are younger carry more responsibility.
- Feeling unwanted and "in the way."
- Preoccupied with "what if' rather frequently.
- Feeling guilty over previous mistakes and wrong decisions.
- Feeling forgotten, unloved, lonely, and passed by.
- Threatened by sounds, speed, financial uncertainty, and disease.
- Resisting the need to adjust and adapt.
All this—and there is much more—is worsened by the memory of those days when you once were so very efficient, capable, needed, and fulfilled. As you look into the mirror, you're forced to admit that the fingers of age have begun to scratch their marks upon your house of clay . . . and it's hard to believe your twilight years could be of any worth.
How wrong! How terribly wrong! How destructive such thoughts can be! How quickly such thinking can sentence you to the prison cell of self-pity, surrounded by the four bleak walls of doubt, depression, uselessness, and grief.
God's patriarchs have always been among His choicest possessions. Abraham was far more effective once he grew old and mellow. Moses wasn't used with any measure of success until he turned eighty. Caleb was eighty-five when he began to enjoy God's best goals. Samuel was old, old when the God of Israel led him to establish the "school of the prophets," an institution that had a lasting influence for spirituality and godliness in the centuries to come. And who could deny the way God used Paul during his last days on his knees, writing words of encouragement in letters we cherish today!
No one fails to see that growing old has its difficulties and heartaches. It does, indeed. But to see only the hot sands of your desert experience and miss the lovely oases here and there (though they may be few) is to turn the latter part of your journey through life into an arid, tasteless endurance which makes everyone miserable.
Please don't forget—God has decided to let you live this long. Your old age is not a mistake . . . nor an oversight . . . nor an afterthought. Isn't it about time you cooled your tongue and softened your smile with a refreshing drink from the water of God's oasis? You've been thirsty a long, long time.
Deepening Your Roots
Proverbs 16:31; Psalm 92:14; Isaiah 46:4; Titus 2:2–3
- Spend time with an elderly person and find out some of his fondest memories, and in what ways God has used him, or he hopes God will use him.
- Begin praying about your future, that you will be a faithful and valuable vessel.
- Ask this question of three elderly people whom you consider to be godly: What would you do over or do differently to develop a closer relationship with God? Heed their words.