Dear Friends,

I’m writing this article on my birthday.  I’m not reacting to a mid-life crisis but I find that I am being a little contemplative about growing older.  Do you remember turning 10?  How about finally becoming a teenager at 13, a driver at 16 or an adult at 18?  What about the big one at 21!  There was always a party, a celebration, a cake with candles.  It was always a day we looked forward to, a special day dedicated just to us.

Why do so many of us stop celebrating as more years pass? I suppose it could be that the farther away we get from those milestones, the closer we get to tombstones.  Every year adds a candle to our cake and after a while it starts looking like a fire hazard.  Anymore, birthdays come and go – maybe there’s a dinner involved, a few cards, some well wishes online but it’s really just business as usual. 

I remember an old TV commercial with a pretty wrinkle-free woman who would ask, “Why grow old gracefully? I intend to fight it every step of the way!” Of course, we all know that it’s a losing battle.  One thing we cannot stop is the passage of time and the effect it has on our bodies.  But what does God say about aging? If we listen to our Creator, we won’t hear about fear and resistance.  Instead, we hear about grace and goodness.

One of the verses that is particularly meaningful to me, given my appearance, shows us that growing older is an honor: Proverbs 16:31, “Gray hair is a crown of splendor…” The more years we live, the more experiences we’re given to learn from, and the more wisdom and perspective we gain to see life in new and beautiful ways. When we see someone in their later years (or when we look in the mirror and it’s us!) we should remember what a gift those years have been.

The media leads us to believe that youth somehow has more value than age, however the truth is, we are treasured by God at every age. Not only that, but He gives us specific gifts to share with the world in every season of our lives. In Titus 2, Paul reminds us of our great purposes, particularly the older men and older women.  He says that by living reverent lives of love, self-control, purity and kindness, we will teach and bless the younger men and women and their families. Those generations to come depend on our willingness to share what God has taught and given us.

Aging is often seen as a loss of control, independence and strength. Our bodies aren’t able to do what they once could; our memories aren’t as sharp; we begin to need more help than we used to. As the years pass, our fear of the unknown may grow stronger.  But the truth is, we’ve never been in control anyway! From the moment we were created, whether we’ve realized it or not, we’ve relied on our Creator for every step and every breath we take. Growing older helps us to understand that control is a transient illusion.  It becomes easier to rest in the promises of our loving God. Whether we’re turning 10 or 100, He promises to be with us every step of the way: Isaiah 46:3b-4 “… you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” 

So, whether you’re celebrating your birthday (like me) or that of someone you love, remember that every day in life matters. Don’t wait for a milestone to make it extra special. Look in the mirror and cherish your laugh lines and your gray hair; remember how they are created; remember you have a purpose and remember Who holds your future in His hand.

Only by Grace,

Pastor Mike