The Bright Side of Growing Older Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
The hymns To God Be the Glory, Blessed Assurance, All the Way My Savior Leads Me, and He Hideth My Soul reminds us that it’s never too late to begin serving Christ.
Some people start as children, others as teens or young adults. But Moses was 80 when God commissioned him, and Paul was middle-aged. So was Fanny Crosby, who was the author of the hymns I mentioned. Fanny was born in a cottage in South East, New York, in 1820. Six weeks later, she caught a cold in her eyes, and a visiting doctor prescribed mustard poultices, leaving her virtually blind for life. Growing into childhood, she determined to make the best of it, writing at age eight: “O what a happy soul I am! / Although I cannot see, I am resolved that in this world contented I will be.” Fanny spent many years in New York’s Institution for the Blind, first as a student, then as a teacher and writer-in-residence. Her career flourished, and her fame mushroomed. She recited her poems before Congress and became friends with the most powerful people in America, including presidents. But not until 1851 did Fanny meet her greatest friend, the Lord Jesus. While attending a revival meeting at John Street Methodist Church in New York, she later recalled, a prayer was offered, and “they began to sing the grand old consecration hymn, ‘Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed?’ and when they reached the line, ‘Here, Lord, I give myself away,’ my very soul was flooded with celestial light.” Fourteen years later, she met the hymnist William Bradbury, who told her, “Fanny, I thank God we have met, for I think you can write hymns.” Bradbury suggested an idea for a song he needed, and on February 5, 1864, Fanny Crosby, seizing his idea, wrote: We are going, we are going / To a home beyond the skies / Where the fields are robed in beauty / And the sunlight never dies. It was her first hymn, and she was 44. But by the time, she reached her “home beyond the skies” 50 years later, she had written 8,000 more hymns.
Friends, it is even good to thank the Lord for old age. In old age, those who live for Christ become fresh, flourishing, fruitful, and faithful. Instead of complaining, they are praising the Lord and witnessing for Him. D. L. Moody wrote, “It does not pay to get sour as you get old. I pity a man who lives in the past. He lives on stale manna. He gets stunted.” The Bible offers repeated assurances that the process we call aging is completely secure in God’s hand. Looks, health, and circumstances change with time, and often in ways we would not desire.
Many cope with the stress of aging by trying to cling to outward beauty, youthful strength, or vocational achievement. Yet, only when we realize that God has made each of us, and in accordance with His plan, He carries us through the changing seasons of life, do we come to peace with the inevitability of getting older. Just as each season of nature has its beauty and purpose by God’s design, so there is no season of life in which the Christian should be disappointed at living. Though opportunities and abilities may decline with age, each day of life that God gives is purposefully ordained according to His perfect wisdom.
God’s plan includes people of every age. Miriam was a young girl when she stood by a river and watched her baby brother, Moses. Many years later, she helped her brother lead God’s people across another body of water to freedom. Mary was a teenager when Gabriel announced her motherhood and middle-aged when she witnessed His Crucifixion and Resurrection, and the sending of the Holy Spirit to the early church. Sarah was well past menopause when she gave birth to her son, Isaac.
Those who live each day for Christ will bear fruit not only in youth but in old age as well.
There is yet a third Brightside to growing older; it is that you have Increasing Intimacy with Jehovah-Jesus
God said through the prophet Isaiah, “And even to your old age I am he; and…I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you” (Is.46:4).
In contrast to the idols, which are carried by the people, the true God will carry His people even to their old age.Ever since Isaiah, men have been aware that one of the vital distinctions between true religion and false is that whereas the latter is a dead burden for the soul to carry, the former is a living power to carry the soul.
I’ll wrap this up with some trivia that relates to growing older. Did you know, the number of people in the United States over age sixty-five is larger than the entire population of Canada. Did you know that Americans over the age of sixty have $10 trillion in financial resources? Also, two-thirds of all the people who have ever lived to age sixty-five are alive today.
A common misconception among the elderly is that their age prevents them from making a significant impact. May these seniors be encouraged by the following: Tennyson was eighty years old when he wrote “Crossing the Bar,” and Robert Louis Stevenson left an unfinished novel, which he titled “Weir of Hermiston,” when he died. His death conceivably occurred while he was writing, because the story stops in mid-sentence. One of Whittier’s most beautiful poems was titled, “To Oliver Wendell Holmes.” He wrote it just a few weeks before his death. Charles Dickens was working on what promised to be his best novel when he died.
Few of us will die in the midst of producing our life’s greatest work, but we can all strive to give our best until the moment of death arrives. An African folk song declares, “When an old person dies, it’s as if a library has been destroyed by fire.”
How true! Every senior adult represents a bridge to the past. That bridge can only be crossed if the younger generation takes time to draw out the history and heritage that is stored within the heart and mind.