Learning the unforced rhythms of grace

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Aging Well

Recently, I've heard people say things like, "I don't want to grow old!" or "I never want to live in a senior's facility" or "I will fight aging and stay young forever!" 

I understand . . . but I think we're missing something. 

Maybe I see this differently because my own physical body got sick at a young age and I've clocked hundreds of hours in doctor's offices, labs, hospitals, emergency rooms, x-ray, mri and ultrasound clinics. I have scar tissue in my arms where they take blood and a file at the doctors office that is pretty big. Pain and illness has forced me to let go of my plans for my life and then let go again and again on a daily basis.

I think I'm fortunate! I've had the rare opportunity to practice letting go at an early age. Maybe that is what we're afraid of in growing older. We only see the things that we lose:

"We won't be able to do the things that we used to." 

"We will lose independence."

"We will have to ask for help."

"We will lose our value because we can't DO anything anymore."

I believe there is another way!

What if, as we age, we ask the Lord for how He wants to express His love to this world through our lives. Maybe the doctor's office doesn't have to be a dreaded appointment but in fact a new set of people that we get to interact with! What if we begin to build relationships with the lab techs who take our blood, we ask them questions about their lives and encourage them as they do their job. What if the pharmacy that we have to buy medication from more often becomes a place of friendship between us and the staff. Learn their names! Send them a card! Thank them for what they are doing? What if our world actually expands! Becomes bigger and more full because of the people that we must go to for help? That could be a very good thing! What if the time in our days becomes filled with prayer, Bible reading and encouragement for others!

We can approach the sunset of our lives with an adventurous spirit, conquering challenges, asking others to help us find the resources we need. We can accept our limitations with thankfulness and do what we can and ask creative and helpful people to help us find ways to do the things we can't. We have the privilege of letting go of the trivial things that we focused on in our younger years and embracing the greater honour of becoming wise and mature and  "life-giving" to others. I remember how my Grandma used to gently touch the arm of those who served her food or brought her medicine or visited her. She smiled and thanked them. She took time to honour who they were and acknowledge that she couldn't do this without them. It was a simple but profound action.

This beautiful photo is from a young friend of ours who meets with an elderly woman in a care facility for two hours, twice a week. The lady has dementia and our friend has to introduce herself each time she visits. But despite a failing memory, this woman's faith in Jesus is strong, her desire to read Scripture and even pray for her visitors remains!  She encourages and blesses and brings joy!  She has value, beauty, dignity and worth and she is blessing a young twenty year old by her beautiful and loving presence. 

That is something worth looking forward to. May we be inspired to see the fullness of life that is ahead of us and approach it with courage and hope!

"By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!"    

Romans 5:1-5 (The Message}