As I get older, I have come to realize that my golden years are not as golden as I first believed they would be. Though I am not really sure what was supposed to happen during those years, I have come to the conclusion they are not for the faint of heart. There can be a lot of suffering during that time, and it is not always because our body fails or our memory and life skills have grown dim. Sometimes, it results from the choices we made in the past that we have allowed to affect us. Aging, however, does not have to be just a bunch of bad news! As the commercials we see on television seem to suggest. Every season becomes a composite of the experiences we have gone through. These seasons become our life experiences. Solomon explained these seasons best in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 by saying, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”. God has numbered our days, and it is up to us to make wise decisions so that at the close of each season, whether good or bad, we find ourselves more vibrant and full of life than the preceding one.
Our view of life can quickly become distorted by the situations we experience. One young man, I knew shared with me how difficult it was for his parents to make ends meet. Their struggle ended up impacting his view on life. He had not realized it at first, but his goal to not ever be like them was really an oath he had made. He saw how hard they had worked for years only to retire when they were so well advanced in age that their bodies were just a shell of what they were in their prime. Instead of rationally working out the problem, he had determined to work smarter so he could retire while still young and be able to enjoy his later years. Little realizing how much the oath he made had impacted his ability to make good decisions. The years quickly went by, and what he was attempting to do while young became just as elusive to him as it was to his parents. Goals we make in adolescents are a child’s goals; after all, what did we know about life back then? It is important that we take stock of where we are in life by being honest with God and ourselves as to why we struggle in one area of life while succeeding in another. Psalm 139:23
Years ago, after a rather difficult season in my life, I found myself continually plagued with memories that would play out, over and over in my mind. I knew it was a forgiveness issue, and after a while, I really didn’t care who was at fault; I just wanted it to stop so that I could get on with my life. I lived in Montana at the time, and there was a three-mile country road that circled our neighborhood. Whenever those thoughts would start to bombard my mind, I would go out and start walking. As I did, I lined up ‘in my mind,’ all the people I had hurt and all the people who had hurt me, the situations, everything, and as I walked along, I would speak forgiveness over the situation each person had been apart of in that season. What made the difference was when I began to not only forgive them and myself but I began to specifically pray a blessing over each person and situation. A year later, I was sitting on my porch, and I remembered my walks, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what it was that I had been trying so hard to forget. For a few minutes, I tried to remember what it was I had been trying so hard to forget. Then I stopped and laughed to myself; here I was trying to remember what it was I had so desperately been trying to forget. I praised God for helping me and let it all go. That is why it is so important to have a healthy understanding of the seasons we are in so that we can embrace the new season that God is leading us into, “Even in old age they will still produce fruit;” Psalm 92:14.
Many of us forget that God will never give up on us, and when we fail a test, he not only schedules another test, but he sends the Holy Spirit to show us where we failed so we will not make the same mistakes again. How many of us have been repeatedly taking the test, constantly faced with the same situation with the same kind of people. Rather than pray that the mountain of adversity is removed, we need to pray for the strength to make it through that mountain and stand victorious on the other side.
I remember a season in my life when I came to reflect on my attitude about work. For years I had found little satisfaction in the season I was currently in. I knew my attitude needed an adjustment, then one morning, as I was reading the Bible, I came upon Ecclesiastes 2:24 and read that “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God.” Suddenly, I understood that finding satisfaction in the work of my hands was a gift from God to us, His children. I put down my Bible and prayed that God would give me a gift of being satisfied with the work of my hands. And it happened; my attitude began to change, and I started to really enjoy and look forward to the work that each day brought. Shortly after that, God opened a door of opportunity that changed the direction of our family’s life. I believe this would not have happened if I had not undergone such a radical attitude adjustment. Even now, I meditate on Psalm 143:5, “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.”
Each season we find ourselves in sets in motion personal ideologies that can affect our lives for years. We all can look back and divide into segments distinct time periods which made an impact on our lives and subsequently the lives of our family for generations. We do not live in a bubble where the decisions we make only affect ourselves. Psalm 71:17-18 says. “O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”
Finding a Treasure Chest Full of Wisdom and Understanding
None of us want to hear how bad things can become. Burying our heads in the sand and refusing to realize that yes, life is quickly passing us by, and although longevity has its place, it is the quality of our life in later years that is of utmost importance to us. As James says in 4:14, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” Listen, the blessing of old age is not how much we have accumulated but the depth of our relationship to the one we serve and love. Our inner man of faith should grow more visible each day even as our outer man of flesh withers away. A life well-lived is not measured by the lack of pain and discomfort we may experience at the close of our days but by the quality of the inheritance of love we have left to those we have met and continue to meet on life’s highway.
Aging should be, a wonderful gift from our Father. We have an incredible opportunity to share with others what we have learned from the seasons of life we have experienced. I read once how those experiences are like a treasure chest full of wisdom and understanding. Even our times of sorrow and pain can contain valuable insights that are rich in Godly wisdom if we just have the understanding to see the purposes of God even in the darkest of times. Remember Job 12:12, where it says, “Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.” And in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
Do not ask me my age; instead, ask me about the seasons of life I have experienced, both the good and the bad, and what life lessons I learned from them. Then ask me about my wife, children, and grandchildren and what I see when I look at them, and do not forget to ask me what has made me laugh and what touches my heart the most. These are more important and worthy of conversation than the jobs I have held or the money I have accumulated.
Much love in Him, and may you be encouraged with these words found in Psalm 92:14, “Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.“