I suppose it is inevitable that given the passing of the final Together On A Mission I would be reflecting on my own aging process. The truth is that from the time that you wear your last nappy (or diaper for my American readers) aging represents a series of losses. I have attended my last day at school and university. I have sat my last exam (I hope!) I have spent my last day as a bachelor. I have attended, I am almost certain, the last birth of a child of mine. I may even have moved for the last time, as I intend to live in this house for as long as possible! Perhaps I am already a member of my last church, as I am convinced that I am meant to stay long-term at Jubilee Church. One day I will spend the last day at work, though that day is probably still a long time coming. At some point I will preach my last sermon. And then, one thing at a time I will face a series of losses. I hope that the last blog post will perhaps be one of the last of these losses, even if I have to dictate them to my nurse!
Looked at in the way above, aging can seem a very depressing thing. No wonder we live in a world that is so enamored with youth and the latest fad. But it is not the way God sees aging. Yes, perhaps we loose many things the older we get. But we also gain much. I have much still to look forward to. I am only 40. When a man like Terry Virgo was only 40, he was really just beginning! Indeed. men much older then I am are demonstrating regularly to us that it is not all about the young! The Bible honors the wisdom that experience can bring if it is well responded to. I might well have more than half of my life yet.
To me the secret of aging well is realizing that none of the things we do are what define us or give us value. God will still love you and I when there is nothing we can do for his kingdom except sit and graciously accept our frailty. In fact the very frailty that will eventually grip us is always present with us to a certain extent. With the bravado of youth we think that we can conquer the world. The reality is, we can do nothing without God. We would be nothing without God. His view is that when we are weak then we are strong, and he can be most glorified in us.
Older people can bring wisdom and experience. True, these are not automatic accompaniments of age, but they are not possible without it. Older people have made lots of mistakes. Hopefully they have learnt from them. One of the massive opportunities that is then before them is to look for those younger people who are willing to listen to them. I recently asked my son what the definition of wisdom was, he replied “learning from your mistakes.” My retort was, “yes, but I guess even better than that is to learn from other people’s mistakes!” I suppose that one of the massive and growing opportunities of growing older is the chance to succeed through others. If never before, you should have the joy of encouraging those younger than you, and perhaps even seeing them go further than before. The example of Barnabas is one for us to meditate on.