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Invest in Growing Old Gracefully

29 Mar

There are more than 75 blog posts and articles using this photo of “Very Old Barbie” on the Internet (and I can’t find the original source) – but she’s obviously captured the imagination of many people.OldBarbieDoll_GrayHair_sourceUnknown

I keep thinking, “Wow! I hope I look that good when I’m Very Old Dawn!”

Besides her long silvery coiffure, Very Old Barbie has puffy eyes and wrinkles on her forehead, upper lip and neck … and charming “smile lines.” (It’s probably a good thing they didn’t show Very Old Barbie below her  shoulders.)

In these days when commercials abound for anti-aging creams, “lifts” for double chins, and “guaranteed” wrinkle removers, the focus seems to be on preserving a youthful look.

This might be tough as I get older. I already have more wrinkles than a Shar Pei!

But I’m wondering if people ever think these days about aging gracefully … or preparing to live in eternity with God? Thankfully, everything (body, soul and spirit) will be perfected for those who are in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:1-5, 17). Oh, how I am longing for that day.

My spiritual mentor, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, often says something like this: “… since I was a little girl, my goal in life has been to be a godly, old lady. I’ve always had this image of what this godly old lady looks like.”

I don’t know too many women who had such foresight as a child. But I do understand the “image” thing.

I’ve learned so much from watching my husband’s mom, Adele. We are so different, but she has inspired me for years to strive toward excellence. My own mom, Patricia, taught me the value of endurance and trusting God, even in the dark.

But going further back, I watched two precious grandmothers grow old gracefully. I wanted to be just like them.

TwoGrandmas

They demonstrated such joy and contentment as they modeled the love of  Christ. Grandma Lillian taught me to love God with all my heart; Grandma Dorothy reminded me, “Your love for God should always result in love for others.” I treasure the legacy I received from these two precious women.

In more recent years, I watched my brother-in-law’s mom, Nancy, age in God’s grace. She carried so many of my prayer burdens. Eventually, Grandma” Nancy‘s mind played tricks on her and sometimes robbed her of right Nancy_croppedForLOLpostthinking; but even then, I saw glimpses of the marvelous woman she was. “I want to be just like you in a few years,” I told her.

When she passed on to glory, we were comforted to know we’d see this same joyful, God-loving  spirit in heaven. I still miss Nancy’s precious smile and dancing eyes.

Watching all of these women, I’ve come to understand:

Aging well requires intentionality.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art. And works of art require skill, an investment of time and creative effort.

I decided, long ago, to invest in my “old age.” The first thing I did was pray for wisdom.

Then I asked God to create the “Very Old Dawn” He wanted me to be. On my part, cooperating with God was all about choices. Over the years, I’ve been learning to embrace and apply the scriptures that will make me more like God’s Son, Jesus.

Some of my aging gracefully choices:

Understand … I am not perfect in choosing these things. Not at all.

But at least I have a biblical template for my choices, and overall, my choice is to partner with God in my sanctification as I follow Jesus. To decide to surrender, trust and obey. To triumph, ultimately, in godly maturity.

There is an old Hasidic saying that describes exactly how I feel about aging:

“For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned, it is the season of the harvest.”

Every season of life is special, but this season of the harvest is so fulfilling. A precious time with opportunities to pour other women’s lives; and unique opportunities to bless my children and grandchildren and try to give them a hunger for God.

If the Lord does not return before I die, someday people will likely sit at my memorial service or funeral and consider my relatively short life (short in terms of eternity).

I hope they will say they saw something of Jesus in me. I hope they will say I numbered my days and applied my heart to wisdom. I hope they will say I lived for a Kingdom greater than any kingdom I could ever hope to build here on earth.

That would make Very Old Dawn very happy. Better still, I think that testimony would please my Father God.

It will be worth the investment!

How about you? No matter your physical age right now, how are you investing today in your old age? Do your investments count for eternity?

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No Sweat

12 Aug

Jodi Whisenhunt wrote a post titled “You Know It’s Too Hot When…” for The Christian Post (8-1-12). Her “You know…” thoughts made me LOL on a very hot day in August.

You know it’s too hot when…

1 ) You fry your morning eggs on the front walk.
2 ) Your neighbor brings over cookies she baked in her car.
3 ) Your swimming pool turns into a hot tub.
4 ) Your hot tub is bubbling and it’s not turned on.
5 ) Your aerosol sunscreen shoots flames.
6 ) Your dog sheds her coat bald when she steps outside.
7 ) You drop two pounds in perspiration just by walking out the door.
8 ) You get a second degree burn when you touch the handle of your car door.
9 ) The hummingbirds are fanning the squirrels.
10 ) The ice cream truck melts.

OK… maybe it’s not quite that hot. But I’m sweating, and I’m not a sweaty person.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “No sweat”? No sweat can mean no trouble, no difficulty, or even “Don’t worry; it’s a done deal.” As I languished in the heat, the thought suddenly occurred to me that there is at least one thing in life where I can honestly say, “No sweat.”

Death? No sweat.

This may seem like a strange topic for an LOL with God post, but hang with me.

The Proverbs 31 woman could “laugh at days to come” because she was “clothed with strength and dignity” (31:25). Although the process of dying may be painful and difficult, there is a kind of joy ~ a sense in which we can laugh at death, knowing we will overcome it in Christ! We can clothe ourselves in strength and dignity, even in our last days.

Many people are afraid of death ~ “sweating out” the end of their lives. If this describes you (you are afraid of death or dying), let me encourage you today with the Word of God. The Word makes a world of difference. I have a friend who lived in fear of death for many years, but as she began to read and embrace the truth of scripture concerning her end of days, she found peace and hope.

I can honestly say, when it comes to my eternal destination, “No sweat ~ It’s a done deal.” Not because of any good I’ve done, but because of the rich, undeserved love of God (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; John 3:16-18) . Because He gave me eternal life in His Son and made me His child (John 17:3; 1 John 3:2; 5:13).

The grave is not the end! The believer knows that death is as simple as “falling asleep” on earth and awakening with God where we will live forever (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 17).

Jesus came to free us from the fear of dying ~ the “sting” and power of death (1 Corinthians 15:54-55; Hebrews 2:14-15) ~ but also from death itself (eternal death).  Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die….” (John 11:25-26). We will be united with Jesus in His resurrection (Romans 6:5).

Though there may be a season of suffering before death, because of Jesus’ resurrection, we have true hope for our future (1 Peter 1:3-6; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18). We can face death with confidence and courage. We already have “citizenship” in heaven (Philippians 3:20) and we will be welcome there. I can rest in God’s love both now and forever. One of the joys of heaven is that death will be “swallowed up” forever as God wipes away all sorrow and tears (Isaiah 25:8; Rev. 7:17; 21:4).

One of the struggles I’ve always had concerning death is my fears for those I might leave behind. But God even has an answer for that. He is “a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows” (Psalm 68:5) and we can hand over our fears, worries, and anxieties for our loved ones to Him (1 Peter 5:7). He loves them even more than we do, and will not forsake them.

Do I want to die? Yes and no. I understand Paul’s pull toward heaven, even while deeply involved in ministry and love for the people in this life (Philippians 1:21-25). I want to go home to heaven, but I am so attached to friends and family here. The truth is, whether on earth or in heaven, I belong to the Lord and live for His purposes (Romans 14:8); and it’s my job to figure out the works God has prepared for me to do before He calls me home (Ephesians 2:10).

But death itself? No sweat … I am secure and satisfied in the One who loves me, redeemed me, and has eternal plans for my life.

Can you say “No sweat!” as you look toward the end of your days? Can you laugh at your future, knowing you are safe with God? Or do you still have some concerns? Do you know someone who faced death with incredible peace and hope? I’d love to hear your story.

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