When you’re young, you really don’t think about growing old because you have other things on your mind that are far more important than age. However, many older people wish they were young again with clear sight, sharp hearing, elastic steps, and invigorating health. We are all growing older, no matter what our age. Many people are scared or maybe even terrified of the thought of growing old, which is understandable. The passing years do bring a decline of our vision and hearing. We may even lose our teeth, hair and in many cases our busyness, physical strength, and endurance. Yet, elderly people have advantages the young do not enjoy. In fact, the “sunset years” can be the most fulfilling of all. It is a blessed old age indeed, if it ends brightly at evening time. Old age celebrates the harvest and youth the sowing. Like fruit in the fall, the harvest of old age will either dry up and wither, or grow mellow and sweeter as it ripens.
Old age is the season when we can concentrate on getting to know God better and cultivating character traits that make us more like Him. It’s God’s way of getting us to slow down so we’ll take more time for Him. We can think more deeply about the calm God gives us, the peace He leaves us, the benefits of His salvation, and His faithfulness to us (Psalm 71:15). It is the best time to grow in grace and godliness, in inner strength and beauty of character. “The silver-haired head,” the wise man said, “is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31).
Our senior years can be viewed as a pleasantly useless era when we qualify for retirement benefits, senior discounts, and have a lot of free time to do nothing. Or we can see them as a time of great opportunity to be used for God. There’s so much left to do. For starters we can serve as mentors, teaching wisdom and virtue. Seniors can point to the ancient paths of holy living and encourage young believers to walk in them (Psalm 71:18; Jeremiah 6:16). My brethren, there is power in the example of an ordinary life lived with an awareness of God’s presence, seeing Him in everything and doing all things for Him. This is the mark of the mature soul, quietly and humbly going about ordinary tasks, living in joy, and leaving behind the fragrance of Jesus’ love. Even if our journey leads to illness and weakness, and we’re confined to our homes and then to our beds, our years of fruitful service need not be over. We can still pray. Prayer is one of the special privileges of infirmity, and in the end may be its greatest benefit. Above all else, we can love. Love remains our last and best gift to God and to others. Mentoring, being a godly example, praying, and loving. These my brethren, are the opportunities of growing old gracefully with God.
“A Prayer for Growing Old Gracefully”
Lord, Thou knowest better than I myself that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all; but Thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end. Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains; they are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cock-sureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet, for a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people; and give, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.
We never retire from being useful to God.