Engaging with Our Aging

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It’s been said there are three stages in life: youth, middle age and “My, you’re looking good!” Well, however one interprets that observation, we all know that getting older has its challenges – one of which has to do with attitude. For example, an elderly woman who had never married – the story goes – passed away. Having requested no male pall bearers, she had written in her instructions for the funeral, “They wouldn’t take me out while I was alive; I don’t want them to take me out when I’m dead.” Sounds like she had some attitude issues!

Another senior adult reportedly prayed, “God, grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do and the eyesight to tell the difference.” While such a prayer may not be entirely biblical, it was certainly specific! And then, of course, husbands and wives have to keep working on their attitudes as they get older. Someone said that Adam and Eve had an ideal marriage: He didn’t have to hear about all the men she could have married, and she didn’t have to hear about the way his mother cooked! Attitudes are very important. The good news is that by God’s grace we can grow older gracefully – facing our challenges with the faith, hope, courage and peace he alone can give.

Having entered my 40th year as a pastor, it is important that I work to maintain an attitude that reflects God’s goodness – especially as I continue to age. It would be easy to bemoan not having the energy I did as a younger pastor and complain about other physical challenges. But God’s grace is still sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) and his strength is readily available. It would also be easy to bemoan past mistakes and live with regret. In fact, I can identify with the Christian leader who said that if he wrote a book about stupid things he had done in ministry, it would have to be a multi-volume series! But, of course, the past is the past and we can’t look back and wallow in the self-pity of our mistakes.

Therefore, in this final quarter of ministry, I don’t want to just coast along; I want my life to declare the joy of the Lord on the basis of my spending much time with Him in prayer and in the daily reading of Scripture. I love the words of Psalm 92:14, “They still bear fruit in old age.” As senior adults, we have the privilege, through our example and attitudes, to challenge this generation to step away from the sidelines and fully involve themselves in Christ’s kingdom work.

So, as far as getting older is concerned, I’m encouraged by the fact that since God is in control, I can say to myself, “I’m exactly the age I’m supposed to be. I’m right on schedule!”