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Posts Tagged ‘Aging Gracefully’

 

Unknown

(“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.” – Eleanor Roosevelt)

 

Can I get an “Amen?”

For those of us who’ve reached the fifth decade and beyond, Eleanor’s words give us a worthy goal: to become lovely masterpieces as we age.

Obviously she’s not talking about the artistry of a plastic surgeon’s facelifts and tummy tucks. I don’t think such procedures were even being performed in her generation.   Besides, the most successful procedures provide only temporary changes. I’ve never seen a ninety-year old who looks twenty-one, have you?

But if you Google the phrase, “aging gracefully,” you’ll find a long list of articles about stalling the aging process—on the outside.  Eat right, exercise, get seven to eight hours of sleep each night, etc.  Where are the essays about becoming more lovely in heart and spirit as the decades pass?

No doubt Eleanor was referring to those who have achieved this kind of beauty–those gracious elders who listen, encourage, and speak positively.  And I dare say, such folks are most often Christians who have grown in faith and spiritual maturity over the years.

Their eyes twinkle from the Light within. And those radiant lines that fan out from the corners? Son-beams.

In fact, His name is often on their lips, because their thoughts turn to him so consistently. Jesus is an intimate Friend.

In addition, the joy of the Lord is their strength—perhaps not in body, but in soul. It shows in a delightful sense of humor and frequent smiles. Joy is also expressed in continual gratitude and praise.

These dear ones learned self-discipline along the way. Those ugly traits of bitterness, complaining and negativity are nowhere in sight. And never do you have to endure a long soliloquy that begins, “Back when I was young…”, that goes on about how much better or tougher life was decades ago.

Wise elders realize the value of influence, and the power of positive memories for the younger generations. They know that integrity and faith are best taught through example—examples that live on long after the elders graduated to heaven.

And as such saints delight in God and minister to others, they discover contentment—even as aches, pains, and deficiencies overtake their bodies.

They are true masterpieces, according to the definition: outstanding, superlative, ingenious works of art.

Masterpieces don’t just happen; they are the result of: 1) informed skill, 2) extended time, and 3) concentrated effort.

Similarly, beautiful seniors are the result of: 1) living by Biblical principles, 2) trusting in God day after day, and 3) practicing his presence moment by moment.

 

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Father, thank you for taking up your paintbrushes and paints to create a pure and beautiful spirit within me (Psalm 51:10). But it’s also true I must be a willing and active participant. May I not lose heart and invite your Spirit to refresh me every day. May I be mindful that “what is seen [like outward beauty] is temporary, but what is unseen [a pure heart] is eternal (2 Corinthians 5:16-18). May I be focused on the latter.

(Photo credit:  www.groups.yahoo.com.)

 

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Book-NearingHome-BillyGraham-Sep2011

 

Those words, “Life, Faith, and Finishing Well,” are actually the subtitle of Nearing Home (2011), by Billy Graham.

Most Americans recognize that name immediately.  In fact, people around the world know of the famous preacher.  For nearly fifty years, he held mass meetings in numerous large cities, and introduced millions to Jesus.  His radio program, television broadcasts, and writings have further expanded his renown.

After such a long, fruitful ministry, Dr. Graham has earned the right to tell us how to live well during our remaining days.

He includes practical advice, to answer such questions as:  When should I retire? What should I keep in mind as I plan for the golden years?  What legal issues should I settle so my children won’t have to?

Dr. Graham also inspires us with his wisdom:

  • ” Look for the Lord’s purpose in every circumstance and in every face or voice you encounter daily, for the time He has given you is not without purpose” (p. 38).
  • “Whatever you do, keep your mind and your body occupied; don’t give laziness or boredom a chance to take root in your soul” (p. 47).
  • “God designs transitions and provides the grace to embrace what follows” (p. 165).

M-m-m.  Such advice would be helpful for the high school graduate heading off to college or the workplace, just as much as the senior citizen!

Billy also offers up much encouragement.  He names numerous senior citizens of the Bible and draws attention to the work God gave them to do.

The record of some we know well:

  • Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born, and the foundation for the Israelite nation was finally established.
  • Moses was 80 when he led the Israelites out of Egypt.
  • Daniel was still serving as prime minister of the Medo-Persian empire, at age 80.

Others are not so familiar:

  •  Barzillai,  age 80, helped to save the life of King David and his men (2 Samuel 17:28-29).
  • Jeremiah remained faithful to his prophet-calling, probably into his nineties
  • Haggai wrote his book of prophecy at age 70.

These men had probably slowed down a bit, compared to their energetic youth.  (Moses is the only exception.  Deuteronomy 34:7 tells us that, when he died at age 120, “his strength was not gone.”)  All of us, sooner or later, experience that life-shift from speed to sputter!

But slowing down is not the same as stopping.  “Retirement should not put us on a shelf,” says Dr. Graham (p. 28).  One option:  lift up others who are carrying heavy loads.  We can pray, encourage, and offer help as we’re able.

What else contributes to aging gracefully?  Age gratefully.   Follow Paul’s instruction, Philippians 4:8:

“You’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious–the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise not things to curse” (The Message).

Again, just as applicable to a teenager as an octogenarian–and all of us in between.

Because no matter how old each of us might be, our foundations of faith can always use reinforcing.

(photo credit: http://www.homecomingmagazine.com.)

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