The just shall flourish like the palm tree, shall grow like a cedar of Lebanon. Planted in the house of the LORD, they shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall bear fruit even in old age, always vigorous and sturdy, as they proclaim: “The LORD is just; our rock, in whom there is no wrong.” Psalms 92:13-16
A few week ago at our Wednesday night mens prayer group, we were discussing New Year’s resolutions. I made the comment that every year, as I grown a little older, my resolutions have less to do with job and money and more to do with being a better person.
That’s when my friend, Dick Hills chimed in. “Growing old is a blessing” Dick exclaimed. “There is a lot of grace that comes from getting older.”
And he’s right! As we get older, the responsibilities of raising children, making a living, making mortgage payments, and many other things, all decrease, and our desire to have a right relationship with God increases.
We finally have the time to devote to prayer, service to others, and growing in our faith. We have a lifetime of memories that St. Augustine referred to as a “vast court” or a “great receptacle.” In his confessions, (book X) he says:
“The elderly have a rich storehouse of memories, and inner landscape to explore: times lost in idleness, opportunities well used, a fulfilling career, children grown up and suffering gone through with dignity and courage.”
Viktor Frankl, the Nazi death camp survivor, in his amazing book “Man’s Search for Meaning” (Beacon Press $14.00) said:
“There is no reason to pity old people. Instead, young people should envy them. They have realities in the past – the potentialities they have actualized, the meanings they have fulfilled, the values they have realized – and nothing and nobody can ever remove these assets from the past.”
Some of the things we discussed that night were:
As we get older, we are more grateful! It is true, as we get older; we realize that life is a gift to be cherished. And some people don’t get that gift of time. Our lives are filled with friends that never got the chance to grow old and we are grateful that we have been blessed.
We grow spiritually! As we get closer to God, we put away some of our old ways and take on a new more authentic version of ourselves. As the bible says we:
Should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth. Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Ephesians 4:22-25
We have the time to pray for others! One of my favorite things at our Wednesday night prayer group is to pray for others. We start by making a list of all the people we need to pray for and then do it.
First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone. 1 Timothy 2:1
We have time for ministry! Often older people are the volunteers at the food pantries, homeless shelters, and pregnancy centers and are active in the ministries of their church like lecturing, communion ministers, choir and many others.
My buddy Dick was right, growing old is a blessing. I am sure he would agree with Viktor Frankl, young people should envy us!
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