Last week, Grandma said, “Oh, Pam. Don’t die young, but never grow old!” This was her advice to me as she cautiously made her way to my door, after mom helped her up the steps. See, my grandma is getting pretty fragile, her bones not as strong as they once were. She used to be the one to hug me, but now I give her the hug… her body being engulfed by my own.
So there’s no denying it… Grandma has become old. And truth is, I didn’t take her remark to heart until today. “Don’t die young, but never grow old.” And the more I ponder her words of wisdom, I see it’s really the best advice someone could give. Because at some point, we will all face death…
Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. Hebrews 9:27
It becomes clear that death is our destiny. But are we destined to grow old, too?
Today, I realized what an old person I truly am. And I’m only forty years old. I believe the way I have been living has everything to do with my old state of mind. See, I believe aging is more about attitude than anything. Because for years now, I’ve been isolated as I work from home. Rarely do I get out of the house and if I do, it’s usually family or church oriented. All good things, but somewhat selfish. Because the only things I do concern me and mine… my house, my family, my church.
Inevitably, all my focus is inward. Consumed by my stuff. And because of that, I’ve become self-centered contemplating my life way too much. It’s unhealthy. To further this inward focus, we no longer have cable. That means no news. Although I’m able to read about current events through the internet, it’s just not the same as watching the news on T.V.
Basically, what all this boils down to is I’ve been self-absorbed. I’ve been feeding into longing. My desires and wants mastering my life… because all I see is me. Everything revolves around me and my world. And because I’m not faced with the harsh reality of reality, my axis is off center. My reality is not what’s real at all because my reality is out of balance.
In truth, I’ve been removed from the very thing I should be connected to… God’s creation and His people. Thus, I don’t have a firm grasp of reality. The true suffering that takes place around me surreal. And so rather than being thankful for how truly blessed I am, I groan inwardly over what I don’t have. Rather than thanking God for my circumstances, I covet and desire. I think it’s aged me. My consistently ungrateful attitude has worn me out.
Ironically, despite an inward focus mentally, I find I’m the last one I take care of externally. So busy with housework and chores, I’ve neglected exercise. Utterly out of shape, I get winded simply by climbing our steep driveway. And eating? Well, healthy eating has fallen to the wayside.
I am God’s temple, and yet I’m falling apart. My foundation has cracks, my bones groan and strength fails me. I am truly a forty-year-old old woman. And so I think about Grandma, and what she said…. “never grow old!” But this is the very thing I’ve done. I feel all of seventy instead of forty. And what bit of health I do possess, I fear I’ve taken for granted.
But this should not be. For God does not want me to be worn out. And old before my time. No, He wants me to serve Him with mind and body. He wants me to love Him with all my heart and soul and strength. But the truth is, I’m just plain worn out. Sometimes I am. Strength has all but left the building…
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:29-31
I’m faced with a choice today. We all are. For it is true we’re destined to die once. But the fact is we don’t have to grow old in the process. I know, inevitably our body parts will fail us; however, our minds don’t have to. See, I am absolutely convinced the key to staying young is attitude.
If we simply take our eyes off ourselves and look out, we’ll feel differently. Because too much inward focus causes discontentment. Too much me seeking causes an ungrateful attitude. And so we strive to attain what we do not have. And we wear out through the process… it ages us and we grow old before our time.
Today, though, I try to take my eyes off of me. And today, through His eyes, I begin to look beyond my sphere of comfort and to the fields. Because the harvest is truly great. But the laborers are few… and God wants us to be working. For Him! But if we’re too old and worn out, we’re of no good use to Him.
And oh, I want to be serviceable to Him today. Because there’s no time to delay. The truth is we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. What is our life, but a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14.
So let us not delay another moment, for this is the day that He has made… let us rejoice and be glad in it! May we look beyond our selfish desires and run with endurance! May we fight the good fight of faith and give this one life everything we have! May we do justly and love mercy and extend our arms to those in need!
And oh, that we’d live in a way that brings no regrets.
And that we’d please God. And oh, Lord, help us to stay strong so we can do just that.
Just like Grandma said, may we never grow old. So we ask you, Lord God, please… may we stay forever young.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11