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Whatever season of life you’re in, God has equipped you to flourish—to live in the transforming power and beauty of His grace. As we age, we can easily lose sight of this message as cultural ideals glorifying youth take center stage.
In the book, Aging With Grace, Sharon W. Betters and Susan Hunt offer present-day and biblical examples of women who rediscovered Gospel-rooted joy in their lives. Equipped with a biblical view of aging, Aging with Grace will help you encounter afresh the Gospel that “is big enough, good enough, and powerful enough to make every season of life significant and glorious.”
Aging with Grace: The Long View
Have you ever noticed that children tend to be short-sighted? They live for the moment. They do not consider the consequences of their actions. Those of us who are parents desire to teach our children the importance of taking the long view instead.
Webster’s Dictionary defines the long view as thinking about the things that might happen in the future rather than only about the things that are happening now.
Just as it is considered childish to be short-sighted, from a physical standpoint, it is also childish spiritually for the Christian to live their life with no thought of the future. In fact, this person is failing to age gracefully. We make hundreds of decisions every day that come along with consequences – good and bad. When we make our daily decisions looking to the future, we are aging with grace.
How do we take the long view? It is by following the example of the apostle Paul: “I die every day.” (1 Corinthians 15:31) I die to my desires and I live with eternity in view.
We are able to see multiple examples of this attitude displayed in the Psalms. Men who set their gaze on the long view, dying to self and living for eternity through the avenue of prayer. Prayer sets our gaze on the long view.
Psalm 71 is an example of this. The writer is unknown, but many think it was David writing as an old man during the time that his son Absalom was seeking to steal his father’s throne. A son rising up against his father…how heartbreaking. Yet David clung to God as his refuge. God was his reference point. He placed his hope in the eternal, and he continued to praise the Lord.
He did not just wake up one day and decide to live life this way. It was the process of many years of keeping the long view in mind, and clinging to God through prayer.
“…we who have fled [to God] for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone….” (Hebrews 6:18-20)
Job 12:12 reminds us that “wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” Why is this true? Because God’s wisdom increases in us day by day as we grow in the knowledge of who He is and learn to trust Him through difficult and even confusing trials. He is our reference point—all through life. Our Rock. Our Refuge. And this causes us to age gracefully.
Having the long view involves not only looking to the future, but it also involves remembering. There is a beautiful advantage to growing old and being able to look back over the years and give testimony to God’s faithfulness. To say, “He has done all things well.”
Susan Hunt says,
“From my eighty-year-old perspective I can now look back and see that nothing was random; nothing was wasted. God used, and continues to use, everything—my sin, the sin of others against me, the disappointments, sorrows, grief, suffering, times of rejoicing, and times of weeping—to shape me into His image. I would not change anything because each thing drew me nearer to Him.”
Having a good memory is something I have never been blessed with, but God has called His people to remember. This is a critical part of aging with grace. Remembering gets more difficult as we age, but thankfully we have been given the Holy Spirit at salvation to remind us.
“He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said...” (John 14:26)
We can see the important role that remembering plays in the process of aging gracefully in Psalm 103:2-5. Here we read one of the many times that David speaks to his soul.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. Who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.”
In Psalm 71, the psalmist remembers God’s faithfulness all the way back to the womb.
“For You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon You I have leaned from before my birth; You are He who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of You.” Psalm 71:5-6
How did this impact him as he aged? It had to have a huge influence on his decisions, and on his perception of his circumstances. David knew God had a purpose for his life. He knew that every day was ordained and orchestrated by God—He is sovereign. David would not forget it. It would prepare him for the end of his life.
“Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent….But I will hope continually and will praise You yet more and more.” (Psalm 71:9,14)
Where are you in life? Whether you are in the middle years of being busy and stretched or in the later years facing the fears of aging, taking the long view will strengthen your hope in your God and fill you with His praises more every day. You will be compelled to praise Him to the next generation. Susan Hunt reminds us that if our children will not listen, there is someone who will. May our hearts be so full of His greatness that it spills out to all around us.
“My mouth will tell of Your righteous acts, of Your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come; I will remind them of Your righteousness, Yours alone. O God, from my youth You have taught me, and I still proclaim Your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim Your might to another generation, Your power to all those to come.” Psalm 71:15-18
How can I proclaim His righteous acts and deeds of salvation if I am growing old and becoming feeble in mind and body? Don’t forget that “My mouth will tell…all the day” means every day of my life. Being in the older category just means that we have to be more creative.
As we invest in the next generation in ways like these, we are flourishing. We are bearing fruit that remains. We must let the next generation see that “the plot of dirt where we die is also the place where we flourish.” (Susan Hunt)
Taking the long view instead of being self-focused and short-sighted includes dying well.
“We short-change the beautiful concept of flourishing unless we acknowledge that full flourishing comes at physical death.” (Susan Hunt)
This is something most of us don’t like to think about. Someone said to me recently that they were looking forward to Heaven, but it was the vehicle that would take them there that concerned them the most.
Charles Spurgeon hit the nail on the head when he wrote, “Those who die daily, will die easily.” That is so true. If we have died a thousand deaths, what's one more, right? Therefore, we must die daily in order that we may die well in the end.
Live life taking the long view.
How are you taking the long view and aging with grace today, friend?
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