by Karen Strand
SEASONS. CHAPTERS. ACTS OF A PLAY. The stages of life are perceived in various ways. But in each — whether childhood, teen, young adult, middle, or senior years — transitions are taking place with new things to learn.
In my early years of marriage, I prayed to be a good wife. In my young mother stage, I prayed for wisdom to be a good mother. These days, I pray for wisdom of a different sort: “Lord, teach me how to be old.” One of the hardest parts is feeling 30 in my mind, while my outer parts tell a different story — that most of my life has passed, leaving the question of what’s around the corner.
Then there’s the frustrating inability to connect with the younger generation — some of whom consider us as antiquated and useless as Gramma’s faded quilt. After looking at family photos, my 12-year-old granddaughter exclaimed, “This proves it. You were young once!” Later, she saw my high school picture and said: “Gramma, you used to be pretty!”
I could hardly believe a news article about an elderly couple who had been lost in the woods. It turned out that the “elderly” folks were in their 50s!
Although aging has been going on since Adam, for each one who experiences it, getting “old” is something new. So what does the Bible say about this thing called old age? Anything? I did a search and found more than I had expected.
King David mused about the brevity of life: “LORD, reveal to me the end of my life and the number of my days. Let me know how short-lived I am.You, indeed, have made my days short in length, and my life span as nothing in Your sight. Yes, every mortal man is only a vapor” (Ps. 39:4-5).
How about fears or misgivings upon approaching the end of life? The psalmist has a few requests about this one, too: “Don’t discard me in my old age; as my strength fails, do not abandon me” (Ps. 71:9).
“Even when I am old and gray, God, do not abandon me” (Ps. 71:18).
God understands. Notice this encouragement from the psalmist: “Planted in the house of the LORD,they thrive in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, healthy and green” (Ps. 92:13-14).
We may not feel capable of bearing so much as a grape, much less being “healthy and green.” But we can bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
To the prophet Isaiah, God said, “I will be the same until your old age, and I will bear you up when you turn gray. I have made you, and I will carry you; I will bear and save you” (Is. 46:4).
These days, I pray for wisdom of a different sort: “Lord, teach me how to be old.”
Do our older bones refuse to do the things we’d like to do? It may be a time for the Lord to bear us and carry us.
And one of my favorites: “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until midday” (Prov. 4:18). Our path heads not toward darkness, but to the brightness of day!
As I nestle into this new stage, I’m comforted, knowing questions and qualms about aging are as old as humanity. But I need not be discouraged. Instead, I’ll look back at the troubling times and know the same God who brought me through then is with me now.
“For He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid” (Heb. 13:5-6).
Gramma’s quilt may be faded and seem not to be worth much, but it was made up of precious pieces from her past, each telling its own story. What comfort, to nestle into its warmth.
Karen Strand is the author of Escape from the Fowler’s Snare. She has been published in a wide variety of magazines. She and her husband, Paul, live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and have 16 grandchildren. Visit her website at www.karenstrand.com.
This article originally appeared in the February, 2013 issue of Mature Living. Subscribe