Getting Old Isn’t The End
What does it mean to age in a church culture that’s obsessed with and idolizes youthfulness?
As most of you know, I recently reached my Big 7-0hhhhhhhh milestone birthday. Someone wrote, “life and time are ghosted creatures for us all. They belong to us and are not ours at the same time. Some leave it by surprise. Most of us inch our way through, sure on the one hand that it will never end, certain on the other that it will surely be ending for us soon.” We might not be able escape the end but we do have a say in what our end game will be like.
I now have a large enough sample size to reflect back over my life with pretty accurate perspective. The point of my life has finally become visible. It’s not the end but the beginning of a new kind of life – a season of purposefulness. E.M. Foster wrote, “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
It’s been said, old age enlightens and clarifies. I see now that fifty years ago, when Jesus first called me to follow him, he had this present chapter of my life in mind waiting for me. Everything Char and I experienced along the way were part of his plan. Every event, every encounter, every incident; the good, bad, ugly and painful; every lesson, every achievement, every failure, every blessing, misfortune and injustice, was necessary in forming and preparing us so we could reach this place. Not so we could finally relax and soak in a sense of personal accomplishment, but so we could give away to those around us the treasure trove of God-experience and insight that comes with age. I’m convinced this is the purpose and joy of the homestretch of life…
Nobody eludes aging. How will you come to terms with it? Will you approach it as the end of everything you know to be good and fulfilling? Does it mean your best years are behind you? Does it have to mean the end of your usefulness in a Church culture occupied with youthfulness? Or…
Could entering your senior years be the beginning of a whole new kind of life? The last phase of life doesn’t mean non-life. It’s a new stage of life meant to be good years. What if the task of our senior years is more than simply enduring the coming end. What if it’s about coming alive in ways you’ve not been alive before? Alive in a way youth can’t deliver… not until they get older, anyway.