“This article first appeared on Crosswalk.com, March 11, 2019.”
Another birthday in the books. I won’t tell you which one I just celebrated but I will give you three hints.
1 – I clearly remember being sent home from school on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
2 – I can tell you exactly where I was when Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon.
3 – I took Home Economics, learned to type on a manual typewriter, and mastered shorthand during my high school years.
While my actual age may still be a question, anyone can easily deduce by these “hints” that I now fall into the season of life affectionately referred to as “senior.”
And as such, I sometimes (especially near birthday season) am guilty of viewing my aging in terms of loss. I mourn the fleeting time; bemoan the gray hair, wrinkles, skin spots, and extra weight; and long to hold on to what was.
Allowing myself to get caught up in culture’s view of aging, I lose sight of God’s truth.
That is not how I want to live out this gift of another season. Rather than setting my heart on things I do not have – the precious bygone memories, the physical frame of my youth, the things I remember as good – and allowing time to rob me blind.
I want to be a “senior” who embraces God’s design for aging.
Set your mind on things above.
In God’s Word I read, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). The truth is, when I allow myself to be ruled by time and its perceived threats, I am guilty of setting my mind on things of the earth. My eyes are not where they are supposed to be – on Christ.
Conversely when I set my mind on things above, I am reminded of power-wielding truth. God is greater than time. His promises extend beyond all time’s limits, and through Christ, time’s curse has been overturned.
With my mind set on God, I also recall Jesus’ promise that He came so that I may have abundant life (John 10:10). It was never His intention that I spend my “senior” years in life-sapping fear, regret, or sadness. Jesus came to bring life, no matter my season!
Consider these eight remarkable benefits of aging. Each one bears witness to Jesus’ promise of abundant life in this season. They are worth celebrating, and they are ours for the claiming.
1. Abiding Contentment
But godliness with contentment is great gain – 1 Timothy 6:6
We spend decades searching for contentment. However, in our busy years of raising a family, earning an income, tending relationships, and figuring how to navigate life, contentment often remains elusive.
One precious benefit of aging is an abiding contentment – contentment that comes from resting in and trusting in God’s sovereign plan.
After walking with Him through the challenges and successes of everyday life, in this season we can experience a contentment that comes from knowing Him experientially. We can also enjoy contentment in discovering what God has for us in this season.
We’re more comfortable in our own skins. We can be our selves. There’s less clutter in our lives, and we know what matters most.
Perhaps that is why we are so comfortable wearing that faded, threadbare, old sweatshirt or sweater day after day no matter what our kids say!
2. Increased Wisdom
Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding – Proverbs 3:13 ESV
With age comes a plethora of life experiences. In fact, “seniors” are the one who have truly “been there; done that!”
All this experience helps us develop a broader map of points of view and a deeper reservoir of options for resolution and compromise. Our life-experience also aids in the development of increased social graces, heightened empathy, and better control over our emotions.
Our culture does not place a high value on the wisdom of age, but God places great value on it.
We have a well of wisdom, and it’s worth celebrating. It’s also worth sharing.
Don’t hide it. Don’t let it go to waste. God’s design is always best.
You have a lifetime of experience and opportunities that didn’t exist when your primary focus was your children or your career.
Find an opportunity and go share!
3. Unshakable Faith
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. – Psalm 138:8
As we age, the joy of unshakable faith in God can be ours.
This benefit – Unshakable Faith – is one that must be developed. We don’t get to wake up one day and claim it simply because we’ve aged.
God uses all our experiences to grow us and shape us. Nothing is ever wasted. Even the hard and the very difficult are for our good and for the work He is preparing for us.
So, we watch. We:
- observe His work in our life.
- notice His hand in orchestrating our family’s history.
- mark the keeping of His promises, and
- lean into His character.
And we learn – to relinquish control, to trust in His sovereign hand, to surrender to the God of the universe.
Then as we age, we look back. We see and we know. He was with us. He did it!
We enjoy Unshakable Faith.
4. Spiritual Strength
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Generally, as we age, we experience a loss of physical strength. Changes take place. Our bodies deteriorate. Unable to do the things we used to do, and full of aches and pains, we are prone to grieve this earthly loss of a strong, healthy body.
Once again, we need to be reminded to turn our gaze to things above. Instead of focusing on our loss, this is a time for setting our minds on things above and celebrating the spiritual strength that can be ours.
What does Spiritual Strength look like?
- Spending time with God and becoming intoxicated with Him.
- Trusting God with our needs and burdens.
- Knowing that nothing touches us – nothing – that hasn’t come through His hands.
- Asking God to make us a model for others to imitate.
- Seeing the hand of God in everything.
- Giving all the glory to God by taking every opportunity to showcase His power and grace.
Now that is something to celebrate!
5. A More Acute Sense of Priority
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. – Psalm 73:25
Aging generally changes one’s perception of time.
Increasingly more aware of our nearness to the “finish line,” our outlook tends to shift. We have a keener sense of what is important and where our focus needs to be.
No longer feeling the need to rush through life, we savor. Seniors take fewer things for granted, are less likely to procrastinate, and seek out positive ways to spend their time. We embrace family and tighten up our circle of friends.
In this beautiful season of refined priorities, we can enjoy time with the Lord as we’ve never enjoyed it before. We are free to spend more time in His Word, in prayer, and in serving others.
Letting go of the trivial, we hold on to what is most important by living lives that are purposeful and full of intent.
6. Eternal Perspective
This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord – Ephesians 3:11
In the younger seasons of life, we talk about eternity. We even sing about eternity. But if we are honest, we’d have to admit that it’s often difficult to think beyond the next feeding, load of laundry, or day of work.
One precious benefit of aging is that God “gifts” to us an eternal perspective. It is in this season that we are better able to think beyond this life. Our eyes are more open to God’s plan, His purpose, and His vision.
Surrounded by a culture that’s shouting at the top of its voice that it’s “me-time,” God tells us something different. He says that it’s time to get to know Him better (John 17:3) and to invest in future generations (Psalm 145:4).
Seniors enjoy getting to know God better through more time spent in Bible reading and prayer, by more freely exhibiting gratitude, and worshipping more deeply.
With a teachable spirit and sensitivity towards God’s purpose, they deny themselves a life of self-indulgence and ask, “Lord, what do you have for me in this season of life?”
Then looking around and making themselves available, they grab their assignment. Discipling, mentoring, ministering, teaching – they serve, model, and invest in future generations.
The beneficiaries of eternal perspective, seniors live for God’s glory and the advancement of His kingdom.
7. New Roles
One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. – Psalm 145:4
For many of us, this season of aging also brings with it the dreaded empty nest. With heads hung low and hearts aching, we wonder what in the world we will do when our children are gone. We seriously doubt being able to survive the loss.
But that’s simply not the way it is at all. One of the beautiful benefits to aging is that we get to experience life from different vantage points. Rather than spending our years in grief and sorrow, we get to enjoy new roles as consultant, mentor, and grandparent.
We don’t lose our children, but our relationship with them does change. No longer the caregiver, commander, and coach, we take on the role of consultant. Free from the responsibility of calling the plays, we now parent from a place of wisdom that was gained through a lifetime of experience.
And in this season, our reach can even go beyond our own children. Embracing the role of mentor, our involvement in the form of conversation, discipleship, and teaching can help to point members of the next generation to Christ. Our investment gives them the chance to have their own encounters with God and learn to lean into Him.
But let’s not stop there. It’s getting good! Absolutely one of the best benefits of aging, by far, is the new role of grandparent. Having grandchildren in our lives allows us to experience the joys of young children again without having to carry the heavy weight of daily responsibility.
Grandparenting offers us an opportunity to build deep, new relationships, share our knowledge and expertise, pass along family traditions, and help point our grandchildren to Jesus. It’s one of the best gigs around!
8. Additional Time
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. – Psalm 90:12
No, seniors are not granted a supply of extra hours to add onto each day, but retirement does help to free up some of the hours we already have. And one of the benefits of aging is that we have a deeper appreciation for that time and seek to use it well.
We have more time to spend with our loved ones, and we embrace that time with family and friends tightly. If we’re married, this season affords us more time to do things together and to draw even closer in our relationship.
In addition to enjoying more time with others, our senior years offer us time to get involved in things that were once no more than fantasy. We have greater opportunity to seek adventures, chase dreams, and pursue passions.
It’s a time to be creative and to appreciate the creativity of others. And if we’re not sure about our dreams or passions or creative bent, it’s a time for rediscovery.
The additional time also enables us to better participate in organizations we deem worthwhile and to give back through the act of volunteering.
And most importantly, this benefit means we have more time to spend with God. More time in prayer, Bible study, praise, thanksgiving, and worship. More time in His presence, beholding His glory, and becoming more like Christ.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.– 2 Corinthians 3:18
The choice is ours. We can choose to spend this season of aging mourning the fleeting time, bemoaning the changes to our physical frame, and trying to hold on to what used to be, or we can choose to celebrate the remarkable benefits of aging.
“Don’t regret growing older. It’s a privilege denied to many.” (author unknown)