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Aging Gracefully

birthday cakeThe righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

There’s nothing like birthdays to remind us that time is passing quickly. In April I celebrated the beginning of my final-year-reprieve before turning 60. This is cause for reflection!

The Challenges

One of the things we need at every age is meaning and purpose. However, as we age, we often struggle with existential challenges. Our children no longer need us the way they did when we were raising them, health challenges may limit functioning, and we may wonder, “Why am I still here?” Old age is a time of remembering and evaluating how we lived our lives. It’s easy to get caught up in “what could have been and will never be” or “what I wish I had done differently.” Rather than wasting precious time in regret or worries about the future, we need ways to move forward.

Role Model

The scripture quoted above has been a real encouragement to me because it speaks of hope. Hope that even in old age I can be fruitful. And good role models inspire us. One of my favorite characters in the Bible is Caleb who at age 85 still wanted to tackle great challenges in God’s strength. After Israel had taken over the promised land, this is what he said to Joshua, their leader:

“Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” (Joshua 14:10-12

Staying the Course

Talk about confidence! What inspires me more than anything is that Caleb, in all those years, did not wane in his absolute faith and trust in God. At age 85, he was still leaning on God wholeheartedly for strength as he did at age 40 when he was sent as a spy into Kadesh Barnea. If we, too, keep the spark of wholehearted devotion alive over the years, who knows what adventures with God may yet still lie ahead?

Scriptures for Reflection

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isaiah 46:4)