July 3, 2014
“Listen to Me…you who have been borne by Me from your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age - I am He, and even to hair white with age who will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; yes, I will carry and will save you.”
Isaiah 46: 3, 4
Loss Versus Hope: “Lost Value”
“Value” – Worth in usefulness and importance.
“Ripe old age, cheerful, useful, and understanding is one of the finest influences in the world.”
This week, Jim and I are visiting his 91-year-old father. And I have to tell you, I’m pooped! Not because my father-in-law is any trouble—he’s not. I’m worn out trying to keep up with him. He moves faster than a jack rabbit. Before I can barely get the clothes out of the dryer, he’s already folded them. He whirls around his house like a speeding car on the interstate. I keep looking at him and saying to myself, “He’s 91 years-old.” You’d never know it!
Why is it that some 50 year-olds look like 50 miles of bad road and other 90 year-olds look and act like they were in their teens!
I believe our viewpoint on aging has a great deal to do with one word – and it isn’t “genes” – it’s “value.”
I’ll be the first to admit that our heritage, those genes that are passed down from one family member to the next, can affect us, greatly.
My dad died at a very young age, having inherited the problem of heart disease. But, even at fifty, my dad wasn’t old. He didn’t behave like he was 50. Most importantly, he didn’t live his life looking back – he only looked forward. Something we can all do at any age.
I’m thankful that I also have had two wonderful examples in my life of women who have aged beautifully – my grandmother who lived to be 95 and my mother who won’t allow me to reveal her age. I’ll just tell you this, both her daughters have hit 50. That should give you some idea of where her age lies. And yet, even her doctor has told her he thought somebody made a mistake on her birth certificate.
As I’ve looked at these family members, and watched their longevity trend, I’ve asked myself, “Why do they seem so excited about living?” And I return to our word today – “value.” For none of these individuals have lost the value of their own life. They still have a purpose, a focus, a reason for getting up each day. They are living the words of Louise Nevelson every day of their lives for as she stated, “I never feel age…If you have creative work, you don’t have age or time.” I love the verse in which my favorite poet, Emily Dickinson observed that, “We turn not older with years, but newer every day.”
I’d like to offer this perspective because I’ve seen it put into practice in the lives of those individuals who, as they grow older in numeric age, seem to grow only younger and sharper in ability and wisdom.
Those among us who value themselves and their own lives the most usually end up being the ones who have placed the highest value on others in their lives.
Let me better explain this statement with a personal example. I regularly speak with my mom each day in the evening.
Yesterday she told me how she and another friend, who is also widowed, spent the entire day purchasing items like sheets and bedspreads for the local domestic abuse shelter, Sojourner Center. These motherly women have put their hearts and hands into taking care of others. It is the value they put on the lives of these abused women that has given them great purpose and value in their own lives.
This truth is a central core in the teachings of Jesus when He asks us to, “Love your neighbor as you do yourself.” (Matthew 19:19). I believe that if Jesus walked the earth today, in our contemporary language He might have said, “Put the same value on your neighbor as you do yourself.” This is why it is so critical we place a high value on ourselves – because God’s value was so great on each of us that He would have sent His Son if we had been the only person needing His redemptive love. Now that’s valuable!
For all of us, time marches on. Growing older is an inescapable process. But we don’t have to lose the value God has for our lives just because time has passed by. As Elizabeth Stanton so beautifully penned, “with age comes the inner, the higher life.”
You Never Grew Old
“Jesus, who never grew old, it is not easy for any of us to face old age. It is fine to be young, attractive, strong. Old age reminds us of weakness and dependence upon others. But to be Your disciple means accepting weakness and interdependence. Because of You we can rejoice in weakness in ourselves, and be tender to it in others.”
I Am Getting Older
“Lord, you know better than I know myself that I am getting older and will some
day be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on
every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out
everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy.
With my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it all, but you know, Lord,
that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details, give me wings to get to the
point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing and love of
rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience.
I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening
cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.
Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a saint – some of them are so
hard to live with – but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the
Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in
unexpected people. And give me, Lord, the grace to tell them so. Amen.”
To Bend the Knees
I will bend my knee to you, O God, as long as my knees will
bend. Keep my knees supple, I pray, and when my knees will
bend no more, may I always bend my heart to You, my loving
The Reverend Jean Dalby Clift
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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