Tag Archives: aging

Joshua 11-17; Still Ticking

I retired from public education in 2011. I’d spent 37 years working with kids, parents, and fellow teachers. And I loved it. But during Christmas break in 2010, I knew it was time for me to go. I was tired.

Much has happened in the six years I’ve been retired. And I haven’t regretted my decision to move on from teaching. I will say, though, that this chapter in my life has its own challenges.

Caleb was in his 80’s when the Israelites entered the Promised Land. Now, at 85, he was ready to tackle his own challenge, and take the land God had given him. It meant war, and hardship. But he said he felt as strong at 85 as he did at 40. I’m not close to 85, but I don’t feel as strong as I felt at 40.  I wonder what he ate for breakfast.

I’m reminded that obeying God, and serving Him does not have an age limit. I have a dear friend who’s mother has had several hospital stays the past few months as doctors try to get a sore on her foot to heal. She’s been in a lot of pain.

But that hasn’t stopped her from sharing Jesus. She talks about her Savior to everyone who comes into her room. She hands out business cards with our church’s address and phone number, and invites them to join us. Doctors, nurses, orderlies, volunteers, janitors, have all received a special invitation from this dear woman. They all know and love Ms Madelyn.

Ms Madelyn’s ministry has changed over the years. She can’t teach Sunday School or work in the nursery or sing in the choir. But even in the midst of her pain, she’s obeying Jesus’ Great Commission. She is still involved in ministry.

Ministry changes with age, as does simple tasks we take for granted. My back isn’t as strong as it used to be, my knee gives me problems from time to time, I don’t have the stamina I once had, and my hands are showing signs of arthritis. But my heart is still ticking, and I have a job to do.

At prayer meeting last Wednesday, we prayed for an especially long list of people with physical needs. Cancer, heart problems, organ failure, the health of our elderly population is getting more precarious all the time. Our pastor told us he’d read that someone once said the aging process is a gift from God, intended to wean us away from this life, and get us looking forward to the next.

It’s kind of like the timing of my decision to retire from teaching. People kept tell me I’d know when it was time for me to retire. I remember saying, “Then I’ll never retire, because I love my job.” And I did. For 36 1/2 years I loved it. But during that particular Christmas break, I realized I was worn out physically, mentally, and emotionally. I didn’t have the same enthusiasm I had when I was first out of college. I didn’t wake up each day eager to get to school to be with my kids. Even my colleagues started getting on my nerves.

I think what the pastor shared about aging being a gift from God, is true. I know the older I get, the more I am aware that this body is wearing out, and the more I think about living in heaven. I just never considered these aches and pains gifts from God, a way a loving God helps us let go of this life, and grasp His hand to lead us into eternity.

So what I take from these chapters today is to be faithful with the abilities God has given me today, in 2017. I may not be able to do the things I once did. But I can do the things God asks me to at this stage of life. If God can help Caleb conquer nations at 85, I’m pretty sure He is going to help me with the battles He wants me to win today, too.

You’re never too old to tell someone about Jesus. Not while your heart is still ticking.

 

May 18

I KIngs 1:1-2:9, 2:10-12; 2 Samuel 23:1-7; Psalm 25, I Chronicles 29:23-20

Even David got old. We tend to remember him as a young shepherd, a brave young man who killed a giant. But that little boy grew up and he got old.

I am with two of my sisters today, taking care of my brother-in-law’s 92 year old aunt whose body is frail and whose mind is easily confused. There are pictures of her around her home when she was a younger woman. She taught kindergarten for 40 years in this small New York town.

She has been a part of our family for over thirty years and I remember her as a fun woman, quick with a laugh. But today she’ll struggle to stand. She can’t swallow her food easily and will dribble a little on her shirt.

Watching people you love decline with age can be hard. And to tell you the truth, I am not a gifted caretaker. But my sister who is using her STNA training is. I watch both of my sisters lovingly speak to this dear woman, kid her, wash her face, and hug her when they help her to her chair.

I hope if God allows me to see 92 years of this life there will be a Peggy or a Kathy to wash my face, too.

If you are fortunate enough to have an elderly person near you I would challenge you to spend time with them. Listen to them. Make them smile and help them feel worthwhile and loved. They are a gift from God.

In our modern society we tend to disregard the old. We throw things away, tear down buildings, trade in our cars at the first sign of age. But the Bible tells us to honor our elders. It tells us our elders have some things to teach us. While God gives them life we are encouraged to care for them. More than that. We have the privilege of letting them know they are loved.

Dear God, I thank you that in creation you devised a way for us to slow down. But, God I pray for aging people who are alone today. Forgive us for neglecting to hold them in a place of honor. May you prompt us to reach out to a dear one who needs encouragement today. And may you find us faithful.