I remember hearing about an older person who was bemoaning the fact that he didn’t like having birthdays. Why? He said, “It’s a reminder that life is slipping away.” His friends disagreed with him and tried to make some positive statement about growing older. He wasn’t convinced, and grumbled that the best thing he could say about birthdays is that it is better than the alternative! I wonder how many of our senior friends feel like that—life is slipping away.
How about you? Do you enjoy having birthdays, or would you just as soon forget about them? Birthdays are not only the chronological way of measuring the passing of years, but a reminder of God’s miracle of the gift of life. In order to get the most out of life, I think we must learn how to accept growing older. Ageing is a part of God’s plan for life so, can we affirm and celebrate each day as a gift?
Growing old gracefully is dependent on maintaining a positive attitude regardless of life’s circumstances. Whatever life brings, our attitude determines how we deal with it and the outcome. Birthdays are occasions to focus on the meaning of life and to recall life’s blessings; not an excuse to moan and groan—“Oh no! Now I’m 12 months closer to the grave”.
Life Is Still A Mystery
Growing old gracefully is dependent on having a meaningful faith that helps interpret life. The psalmist wrote in Psalm 71: “You are my rock and my fortress; in you do I take refuge all the days of my life. For you, Lord, have been my hope and my trust from the days of my youth. Upon you I have depended from my birth.”
Right now we live in a wonderful age. We have seen so many advances in technology. Every area of our lives has been significantly touched and changed because of the multitude of advancements that have taken place. But even with all the modern advancements, and insights about genetic structure, life is still a mystery that can only be explained and interpreted through faith in God.
This matter of growing old gracefully is also dependent upon living life to the fullest and fulfilling your dreams. No matter how old we get, we must never lose sight of the fact that there are always tasks we can do, things to accomplish, and questions to answer. I’ve heard some elderly people say, “I don’t know why I’m still here. I don’t have anything to live for.” Too often people give up when they lose sight of any meaningful purpose to life and fail to recognise that each new day is a gift from God to be lived as fully as possible. Our faith can help us view each day as a unique opportunity to celebrate our existence and live life to the fullest with God’s help.
Getting Closer To God As We Age
In fact, I think that ageing can bring you closer to God. We have time to pray, read the Bible and good books, and think about life. Spiritual maturity is a part of growing old gracefully. It is only through faith that we can unlock the mysteries of life and death.
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Did you know that growing old gracefully is dependent on the ability to accept death as a part of life? A life well lived in the faith is one that can move toward acceptance of the reality of death as a part of God’s plan.
The writer of Ecclesiastes expressed it well: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).There are things that belong to every season of life. A child enjoys chasing fireflies and butterflies. A young person might dream of love and finding success. A middle-aged person might look forward to a dinner by candlelight, or a quiet evening at home. An older person might enjoy a short visit from grandchildren, or simply a quiet time of solitude for reflection.
It is in the final season of life that we have the time and disposition to live everyday completely in the presence of God, experiencing the peace and serenity which comes through faith in him. In this season we can take time to pray, reflect and meditate while growing into a closer relationship with God, knowing that this life prepares us for eternity. Perhaps the primary purpose of ageing is to discipline us to become wiser and more fully committed to the important things of life as stewards of the mysteries of God.
A minister was with one of his parishioners as she celebrated her 85th birthday. What advice would she give to the younger generation? This is what she said:
“Take every day that God gives you one at a time, do the best you can, and love the Lord. Read the Bible and pray regularly. Go to church and when you leave, give others a smile and hug. Keep interested in everything, and keep your mind alert. Don’t concentrate on yourself, but have a heart full of concern for others, and show concern for others’ wellbeing. Treasure your friends. Be thankful for the difficult times, for they will make you stronger.”
Source: R. Franklin Gillis, Jr