The Secret to Aging Well . . . .

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!

 

God Moves In Mysterious Ways: Thanksgiving

I went to sleep last night thinking about all that had to be done this Thanksgiving morning:

  • My precious husband getting our barbecue started at 6:30 to start smoking the turkey–he’s done this for over 20 years so we all can enjoy the most amazing melt-in-your-mouth turkey you ever experienced!
  • Pull out the gluten-free pie crust a friend made (thank you Ellen!) to be turned into a Kentucky Pecan Pie to share with another friend who will be joining us later in the day with her husband Bill–(love you Stephanie!)
  • Cut up 4 loaves of bread, onions and celery to make our very traditional Bread Stuffing that has more butter in it than anyone will ever get me to admit–thank you Betty Crocker!
  • Tidy up the messes I left last night (I ran out of steam!) before family and friends join us for dinner–can’t wait to for the fun to begin Steve, Kara, Matt, James, Jack, Tom and Dona!

I woke up this morning with those thoughts still on my mind but they were in the far distance.  I woke up this morning with the words to a very old hymn on my mind: “Now Thank We All Our God!”  (Written in the 1600’s by Martin Rinkart to minister to the sick and dying during the German Thirty Years War.)  What changed between last night and this morning?  My perspective.  Last night I watched a television special on the devastation of Hurricane Sandy that hit just north of us.  This morning I was hit by the full impact of God’s grace this Thanksgiving Day:

  • Praying for so many who are still suffering major losses from the storm
  • Grateful for a home to welcome family and friends to . . . a husband to fix our turkey . . . for being spared but not sure why . . . .

I woke up this morning replacing “Turkey Day” with Thanksgiving: to a God who works in mysterious ways.  Savor the words dear friends and be blessed:

Now Thank We All Our God 

Now thank we all our God,
With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom His world rejoices;
Who from our mother’s arms
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
And blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace,
And guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills
In this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God
The Father now be given,
The Son, and Him who reigns,
With them in highest heaven,
The one eternal God,
Whom earth and heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now,
And shall be evermore.

All to His Glory!

Mourning to Morning

“Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice,
and no one will take away your joy.”

John 16:22

What do you say when a friend calls you on the phone in tears because someone they love is ill and may die?  Do you feel sick to your stomach as you grope for words that seem totally inadequate?    You are not alone, even Counselors encounter such moments.   Counseling as a biblical specialist, however, does provide an advantage because the Scriptures speak to even the most tragic circumstance with the Wisdom of the Ages.  That is why I do my best to get each of my Clients into the Bible personally through Journey Notes Praise Journaling.   Let me share a personal example of how being familiar with what Scriptures says can make a difference when facing trials:

September 11, 2001 was an wretched day in our history.  I am sure that if you were alive that day, you can tell me exactly where you were on what began as just an ordinary Tuesday.    I was home sick that day and got word about the first Tower being hit so I was watching our TV when the second plane hit.  Like most of you, the world totally stopped for me as the horrific events of that day unfolded.   I remember thinking and praying to God, “Lord, help me understand . . . I don’t know what to do with this ugliness!”  As I got ready to go to bed that night, I remember a heaviness of heart as I mourned the loss of so many innocent people and prayed for their families.    I still was at a total loss to know what to think about all that had happened.   Just as I pulled back the covers to get into bed, these thoughts ran through my mind that I knew were not my own:  “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good . . . GOD is GOOD.”  (Romans 12:9)   KA-POW!   That was one of those times when the Holy Spirit reminded me that darkness will ultimately be conquered by the light of the supernatural!   Yes!  In that moment I was set free to hope as I trusted that mourning would not prevail.  I fell asleep that night comforted by the knowledge that because of God’s goodness, His morning light would return.

Are you in the dark right now struggling with a problem personally or trying to minister to a hurting friend?  Go to God for the help you need by praying for His leading, reading Scripture and giving thanks for His love  and mercy.  If there are things you have put off doing that you know He wants you to do, then make it your priority to get those things done!  Watch . . . wait . . . trust . . . KA-POW! 

” . . . weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

You turned my wailing into dancing;
You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever.”
Psalm 30:5b, 11 & 12