I ask myself, “Why is it that growing old gracefully is so hard?” Looking at myself in the mirror, I’m not always sure I like what I see.
Last night I had a dream. In it I saw the passage of my life – the ‘dead’ time before I knew the Lord personally and then the ‘happy awakening’ after I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior at 31.
In my dream, I looked down from the ceiling of the hospital room to the inert clay form I had just arisen from. Passing before my eyes were all the people I had ever hurt or that hurt me, all the plans I carefully constructed that failed, and the utter despair of my life.
But more followed!
I saw with the clarity of an eye witness, a strong but gentle hand reaching inside of me and with the touch of one finger, transform that hard stone into a heart that felt something and pulsed with new life. I awoke, knowing the dream represented my journey to the redeeming work He did in me and the sanctifying work He is still doing.
Oh, the beauty of His sovereign mercy and grace and mighty power to save!
I arose from my bed with a renewed urgency to cultivate a deeper and more-abiding joy in the Lord that nothing, no matter how hurtful, can steal.
I fully realize that time here on earth is fleeting. Anyone who admits to being over 50 will tell you time just seems to go faster and faster as we age – sort of like a roll of toilet paper unwinding near the end! (Sorry!) None of us can never get it back to do it over again. Our lives on earth are but a flash in time, the twinkling of an eye.
The Age-Old Secret To Growing Old Gracefully
It seems like ‘just yesterday’ that we were married. But 1973 was ages ago, chronologically speaking, as human lives go. When you are just starting out as a young person, you never give a thought to the big picture panorama of your life much less to how it might end…that is unless you somehow have gained the biblical perspective of time.
This is what Solomon’s purpose is for his instructions in the Proverbs. His words are for:
…gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance …
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
~ Proverbs 1:2-5; 7 (emphasis mine)
Did you read that?: ‘to the young.’
Ideally, we are young when we grasp this, but we can learn this at any age. It says ‘the wise can listen and add to their learning’, too. Never too old…
Without a right heart in the Lord Jesus, no amount of money, beauty, luck, or knowing the right people will sustain you in the day of trouble.
No matter how put-together you look on the outside, how financially set you are, how aligned you are with the ‘correct’ political party, if you homeschool(ed), how well-behaved your children, or how spiritual you think you are, if underneath it you have a heart of pride, selfishness, or wrong motive, it will always be found out.
“Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” ~Luke 12:3
I thought I would be young and strong forever. Before I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I didn’t actively cultivate inner beauty or give much thought to growing my heart in the lasting beauty of gentleness, kindness, patience, joy, goodness, or unselfish love.
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting…” ~Proverbs 31:30
Sure, I value a lovely outward appearance and a healthy body – I really do. But I learned long ago that there was so much more peace and joy in developing my heart, mind, and soul in things that would not fade.
I’m sorry for the wasted years!
Now as I grow older, I feel the Holy Spirit urging me to earnestly cultivate my heart and mind and to throw off all the worldly hopes I once had and often still cling to.
Experience tells me that there is no help in money, things, appearance, a reputation based on lies, or position. Even the blessed gifts of family and home from the Lord can be lost in an instant. Our hope is in the Lord alone.
“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.”~Psalm 39:7
So as the years roll on and I grow increasingly wrinkled, white-haired, gnarly-handed, stoop-shouldered, and frail with faded eyes, will I choose to be thankful and able to laugh at myself? Or will I be perpetually lack the joy of the Lord? The choice is up to each of us whether we grow old gracefully or not.
My heart’s cry for you and for me, dear one, is that we will be cultivating the soil of our hearts and minds as carefully as we cultivate our garden or our wardrobe or our Facebook page. This growing old gracefully will be the richest, most enduring legacy we could give and bring the highest glory to our mighty King.
Here is the age-old truth of how one goes about growing old gracefully:
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” ~John 15:4
Don’t wait until you see your life pass before you in a dream to begin fearing the Lord and abiding in the true Vine, Jesus. Begin now – while there is still time! There is no other way any of us can truly grow old gracefully.