If old grapes become prized as fine wine after aging over time and old furniture increases in value as it is deemed to be antique, why do we have so little regard for people as they age? Living in a culture that celebrates youth and regards aging as something to delay or stop altogether, I fear that we have lost sight of the wisdom and perspective that can only be gained with time and experience. I wonder if:
- In our quest to avoid appearing older, we do ourselves a disservice in denying not only our own mortality but also our Creator?
- As we absorb ourselves with appearing outwardly young, are we leaving undiscovered the potential richness of character grown over time as we entrust ourselves to God as we age?
- Have we, in our self-absorption, not only lost sight of God with our warped outlook but also lost the secret to aging well?
Of course, not all grapes become fine wine and most furniture either breaks, is worn out or discarded long before it could be categorized as antique. The same can be said about people, except that inanimate objects have no choice as they age but you and I do. The Scriptures teach that at the end of our days we will have to give an account to God as to how we have lived and the choices we have made.
So, is there such a thing as aging well? I cannot speak to you as any sort of authority except to say that, like you, I continue to be a work in process. However, the Scriptures have much to teach us to help keep our priorities straight:
- In I Samuel 16:7 we gain insight into how vastly different God’s priorities are from ours: “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” Our lesson? Go to God with an open and contrite heart; admit your need to for His help to make your heart right before Him.
- Starting NOW, give thanks to Him for the hope that is ours because of what Jesus accomplished on your behalf and mine. Determine to live each day as Jesus directed in Mark 10:15, 16, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And He took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them and blessed them.”
There is no formula or magic potion to help us age well, but attitude is certainly important. What truly pleases God (no matter what our age) is a simple, trusting faith that opens heart, mind and soul to Him. I don’t know when or how I learned it, but I have found this classic children’s prayer to be helpful for nearly six decades when life has been especially tough and I have been at a loss as to how to pray:“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take . . . .”
It is a scary prayer to pray, sobering even for a child of seven. I still hesitate before reciting the words, “If I should die before I wake . . . . “ as I am reminded of my own mortality before a holy God. Part of me wants to pull back out of fear, but I am still compelled to push past those fears because of Christ’s faithfulness. Even now, as I pray those words I choose to trust my Creator, surrendering my body . . . my mind . . . and my soul to Him.
So what is the secret to aging well? I believe it is the mysterious working of God’s Spirit and His Word in those willing to trust Him:
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12, 13
It is faith lived out on a daily basis that demonstrates a life lived well at any age.
“May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.“ I Thessalonians 5:23, 24
All to His Glory!