From The Garden Bench - Age
The four year old little boy arrived at his father’s house and as he walked towards the front door he spotted Betty. He shouted hello to Betty and they engaged in conversation. Betty asked the boy how old he was and he replied that he was four and then asked Betty her age. Betty replied that she would be 90 the following week to which the boy replied, ‘I do not know anyone so old’ and Betty smiled.
A true story from the end of April when, over the past few weeks, we have seen the positives and negatives of age.
Age is a funny old thing but what for you are the defining features of age? What are the tell-tale signs that age is catching up with you?
The loss of hair or a change of colour of the locks The replacement of teeth, reducing vision or hearing ability, the increasing number of wrinkles to face and hands. The fact that your own children are turning a certain age let alone the grandchildren and growing number of great-grandchildren.
Age, like the tide, is difficult to turn back and to reflect on the amount of water gone under the bridge might well fill a reservoir.
Photo by Aron Visuals via Unsplash
We are told that the current 70’s is the new 50’s which is quite credible when we consider the achievements of people such as Captain Tom Moore and the physical energy he has rather than the amount of money he raised.
As always there are caveats such as enjoying good physical and mental health as well as the determination to live life as best we can, although for some, the strap-line is; let me be old and grumpy.
Prior to the Covid-19 issue, we all know of people who suffer the more negative aspects of age whether physical, emotional or psychological, for whom life is a daily struggle whatever their age. However, the conoravirus has certainly reinforced just how delicate life can be for those who are older whether in their own home or being cared for.
So what does the Bible tell us about Age as an issue?
Caleb was 80 years old when he went to the Israelite leader, Joshua, to explain that he was ready to claim a large area of land promised to him by God 40 years earlier.(Joshua chapter 14) Moses was also 80 when he led the Israelites out of Egypt in the Exodus story (Exodus chapter 14) Sarah in the Old Testament and Elizabeth in the New Testament were both much older women when they had their only child. Paul was very much an older man when he was writing his letters to the various churches using the wisdom he had gained from his many experiences.
God does not see age as a barrier to fulfilling His will and purposes. Even in our own churches we see many older people who are still being used by God and we will be able to think back to older people we knew in the church who had an influence on us. Our compliance, not our age, is what counts with God as He commissions us to serve Him, no matter the size or importance of the task. It is the years and decades of quality service that matters as well as our faithfulness. The more years we have, the longer-lasting our relationship with God and the quality o f this relationship is tantamount. In John’s Gospel, chapter 9, there is a story where age does become an issue; a blind man is healed to the annoyance of the religious leaders who reprimand the parents of the healed man. They in turn abdicate responsibility by asserting the age of their son as an excuse for not being involved in the issue.
Age can become an issue for us when we reach certain milestones in our lives; do I retire or continue to work? I have more than enough money to live a comfortable life, so should I eat, drink and be merry?
In the Christian life, do I retire and enjoy life as it comes possibly ignoring what God expects of me and the years of service I have already given? Or, do I continue in God’s service and give Him the remainder of my years with those He has already received? Paul totally ignored his age issue as is demonstrated in some of the images he uses in his letters; Let us run the race (Hebrews chapter 12 verse 1) So run the race that you may lay hold of the prize and make it yours ( 1 Corinthians chapter 9 verse 24) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith ( 2 Timothy chapter 4 verse 7)
Photo by AP x 90 via Unsplash
Age may slow us down or affect us well or badly as the years go by but age gives us time to spend with God; in worship, prayer, Bible study, fellowship with others and especially those younger as we share our experiences with them.
Perhaps, it is time to assess your age, your expectations and what God has still in store for you.
The following hymns may be of use to you; Great is Thy faithfulness (Mission Praise 200) Through all the changing scenes of life (Mission Praise 702)
The following prayer may help you;
Lord, as we grow older, help us to remember that you are always there beside us, enfolding, supporting, uplifting us with your love. We pray for this whose old age is a time of freedom and opportunity, asking that they might use their days well, living joyfully, lovingly and in celebration of their true selves.
We pray for those whose old age is a time of limitation and frustration, asking that they might know the inner freedom that Your Spirit alone can bring, Your Spirit of love, comfort, joy and peace.
We pray for those whose old age is richly peopled by family and friends, asking that they might be a source of strength to those who endure life’s storms and become beacons of love in dark times.
We pray for those whose old age is a time of loneliness and grief, asking that they might know God’s loving presence, meeting with Him in the face of those caring for them, talking with Him in their darkest hours. Lord, as we grow older life may become harder and there will be trials to face. Help us to remember that you are always there beside us, enfolding, supporting and uplifting us with your love.
God bless you
Photo by Darren Richardson via Unsplash
Signing off; your local Lay-worker, David Hollows