In reading this book recently*, I was reminded that as we age, we should become more mature in our spiritual journey. We should live closer to our Lord than ever before. We should be aware of His presence and activity in our lives more and more. We should be anxious and willing to be effective witnesses for Christ day by day. Yes, growing older has many positive rewards, ragardless of what some would say!
In reading about Dr.J. S. Shavin, MD (Sunday-Times) who at a ripe age of 90 was still working diligently as a physician, I am reminded we never grow too old to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). Paul set an example for the believer: "Keep running to the end of the race; stand firm in your faith; fight the good fight" are just a few of his admonitions. The psalmist had much to say about the aging disciple also. He mentions wisdom, productivity, being an example, and steadfastness - some attributes of the aging saints. (Psalm 90 & 92).
Some believe 'the accumulation of waiting bestows upon us seniors a wisdom about the kingdom of God to which younger Christians should pay closer attention to and model'. It is the belief of the authors of this book that "the special responsibilities of aging adults is to lead, teach and counsel as their gifts allow and opportunities arise". There is a strong teaching in the Bible that 'respect, honor and devotion' be given to those aging saints among us. What a recipe for growing gracefully in the Lord for both the older and the younger generations!
Another thought about 'aging in Christ' is that elders with a long practice of self-sacrifice and loving obedience to Jesus may dispel fear and embrace hope more gracefully as they face death. The expectation that life will continue in the resurrected life can teach us all 'how to die in the faith'.
Growing older is a life-long adventure, a habit of believing God's witness in the Scriptures and acting on it, as long as God gives us life. Maybe Robert Burns was right to coin this oft-quoted line: " Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be; The last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in His hand - Who saith, "A whole I planned; youth shows but half; trust God, see all, be not afraid." (Rabbi Ben Ezra).
May we be blessed in this New Year as we reach forward and grip the divine promises God has laid out before us. As we age, may our trust and faith in the power and love of our God increase beyond all human expectations.
* Authors: Hauerwas, Stoneking, Meador & Cloutier