I want to finish life with a flourish, I don't want to fizzle! I'm 61-years-old and I see the horizon ahead. I've been told over and over by my aging mother and many other older people that "aging ain't for sissies!" And yes, I get that. I see it. But still, I want to be committed to finishing strong, inspired by a big picture view of life and free of the weight of the past...
So then, what does that look like? Gordon MacDonold, a now older preacher in his 80's, wrote a great book I highly recommend to ANY age (it's never too early!) called "Resilient Life." In it, he challenges the reader to keep the big picture in mind. He emphasizes that our life is not meant to be about us. It's part of a bigger story of God at work in our world.
God is the main character of our story. The more we spend time with God and His Word, the more we will be able to have that perspective. Old age can be a blessing from God as a time to be stripped of anything that could take His place in our lives or distract us from giving Him our attention. Our physical life can be poor, but our spiritual health has never had more opportunities to be strengthened (2 Corinthians 4:16-17). Maintaining our spiritual disciplines as long as possible is as important as ever, especially if we want to see our lives as part of a bigger picture.
MacDonald also reminds us not to forget to be disciplined about keeping a thankful spirit in all things. He says resilient people overflow with gratitude! It can be as simple as remembering to say please and thank you. Unfortunately, yet maybe understandably, the older we get, the more entitled we tend to become. We believe we deserve attention, rest, and ease.
One example of how our sense of entitlement reveals itself is when we put our children on a guilt trip for having busy lives. Instead, let's free them to live their lives joyfully. Enjoy listening to them as they tell you about their activities. Thank them for spending time with you while accepting any amount of time as a gift from them. A thankful spirit keeps us humble and appreciative instead of proud and critical (and probably more enjoyable company for our family too).
MacDonald talks about how resilient people "grow their minds." I like to interpret this as continuing to read as long as possible (I love books!)! Or in other words, keep open to learning and perhaps doing new things. I don't want to get stuck in the past and expect the world to come round to my way of thinking. This comes into play when I expect the younger generation to do things my way. I need to remind myself about the difference between essence and form. As long as the essence of compassion, faith, and duty is there, I shouldn't grumble about the form. Each new generation needs a new way of packaging and expressing the essence.
Finally, as we age, now is not the time to underestimate the ministry and power of prayer. Daniel in the Old Testament was in his 80's when he was arrested for praying (read Daniel 6:1-28). The prayers of this 80-year-old were so feared by his enemies, that he was thrown into the lion's den! Be like Daniel and pray. Pray for your heritage- your family. Be specific. Stay involved with the details of your family by praying for them and asking about the answers. This is a great way to leave a lasting legacy for your family and friends.
As I face yet another birthday, I am determined to keep these things in mind; I will understand my place in the "big picture" of life, cultivate a heart of gratitude, and stay a learner and prayer warrior!
Life is a marathon, and like any participant in a marathon, it takes discipline and training if you want to finish it strong.