Happy Birthday! Or is it? Do you feel discouraged and depressed with every passing year?
I’ve heard many older people say, “My body tells me I’m old, but my brain tells me I’m still eighteen.” Do you feel older and wiser, or older and angrier? We mustn’t lie to ourselves by saying “I can’t!” rather than “I can!” and “I will!”
Aging is a fact of life.
Our bodies begin to break down. We all experience loss and limitations. However, God gives us the faith, strength and bravery to follow Him even if we don’t know the future.
I am constantly amazed at the barrage of media misinformation promising we don’t have to get older. We can juice, exercise, lift our sagging flab with plastic surgery, but we can’t outrun the years!
God’s plan is to renew us.
Every day is a new adventure. He renews our minds with his Word. He restores our souls with His comforting presence. We can focus more time and energy on spiritual things. We have nothing to prove. We have nothing to lose.
“For this reason we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed, refreshed day after day. And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory. For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV
God’s plan is to sustain us.
My pastor-husband Roger suffered terrible health setbacks. He had open-heart surgery at thirteen, and suffered from a litany of serious illnesses ever since. His doctors often warned, “Roger, you may not be able to ….” He was not easily discouraged, but challenged to believe in God’s power. God’s grace has no limitations. None of His plans for Roger’s life were thwarted!
No one believed my husband would be able to preach 3,000 sermons over forty years, to travel the world teaching and training pastors, or raise millions of dollars for missions and ministries.
Now he is retired. Or so he thought. He doesn’t have the physical strength he had even five years ago. At first, every Sunday was depressing because he didn’t have the stamina to preach any longer.
Nothing is over in your life until God’s says it’s over!
He still uses Roger’s gifts by allowing him to write for readers around the world, to counsel hundreds of people online, and to preach internationally via Skype.
Many years ago, a pastor-friend encouraged him: “Roger, your greatest ministry will occur after you retire.” He was right!
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16 NIV
God’s plan is for us to live full lives.
We never have to live in regret over past mistakes. We never have to live in fear over future challenges. Jesus said,
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:1 NIV
Satan wants to steal our abundant life. But He can only do so if we let him rob our present peace by entrapping us in the guilt of the past or the fear of the future. We enjoy abundant life in our present.
So how do you stay youthful in the Lord?
· Look forward. God is not finished with you.
“Be confident of this: He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 ASV
· Worship often. Praise lifts your spirits and strengthens your heart.
“I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1
· Remember God’s blessings in your life. Be grateful. It keeps you humble and joyful.
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.” Psalm 77:11 ESV
My husband has uploaded 20,000 photos that rotate in a digital frame. We walk by them every day and are reminded of the people and experiences that have brought us joy.
· Recognize that you will suffer physical limitations, but they don’t have to define you. Instead, use your own losses to empathize and comfort others.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV
I never knew how to comfort grieving parents until I lost my first baby. Loss deepens our compassion.
· Increase your prayer life.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Social media connects us in new and deeper ways. Pray for those who express their needs to you. Pray globally. Be available to pray with others.
· Volunteer your time for ministry.
“Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” Psalm 100:2
Be creative. Ask God to make Divine appointments for you. Get involved in your church as often as you can.
· Deepen relationships with your family and friends.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Don’t waste those moments. You don’t get them back.
You still can be young on the inside.
You still can enjoy life.
You can choose to grow in your faith.
Look forward. Jesus sustains you.
Look toward heaven. Jesus awaits you.