Aging Gracefully

Birthday Confetti Email SalutationEvery year as my birthday nears, I struggle with aging. Actually, I continually battle the thought of aging but fixate on it more when I must actually add to the number that captures the reality.

Yeah, I know the “age is just a number” sayings, but I don’t buy them. To me, that constantly-increasing number reminds me of my mortality, and I find I must deliberately confront my thoughts in this area in order to not find myself consumed by what sometimes feels like futility.

Maybe I love this world too much. Maybe I’m too attached to the desires of my flesh. Or maybe I simply struggle with the wasted time of my past, now lost forever. Regardless, I know I need to, as my pastor said recently, live forward instead of backwards, and for me this means confronting these thoughts that could paralyze me if I let them.

tent

While I struggle with aging, I’m also acutely aware that the number placed on my age only involves my current dwelling or “tent” as Paul calls it (2 Corinthians 5:1-10). I know that the real me, my spirit, renews daily (2 Corinthians 4:16)… it doesn’t age. I hold dearly to my future promised with Christ in Heaven, and I know I must “not think only about things down here” but must “also set [my] sights on the realities of heaven” (Colossians 3:1-2).

At the same time, I can’t deny my desire to extend this tent-dwelling life as much as possible, to live a long, good life on this earth. I simply cannot escape the deep sense that this mortal life truly matters even amidst its fleetingness.

Since this life does matter, I want to age gracefully. I want to live fully in a way that pleases my Creator because I don’t believe He would give me this life if it didn’t matter much, if He didn’t have a specific purpose for both now and into eternity.

Do you have a similar struggle with aging and/or a desire to age gracefully?

In my goal to age gracefully, the focus topic for August on Struggle to Victory, I’m looking to what Scripture says to help me live in victory even within the struggle. In that, I will explore what the Bible teaches about living a long, good life (which is actually quite a lot), attempt to understand the truth that “physical training is of some value” (1 Timothy 4:8) and look at what it takes to finish well.

DISCUSSION: What are your thoughts on aging gracefully?

Living a Long Life

Is Age Really Just a Number?3-28-13 long life 1

This topic idea has been festering for a while. I say festering because I hate aging. Hate seems like a strong word, but I really struggle with the idea that I am aging and can do nothing ultimately to stop it. My last birthday may have amplified this struggle just a bit too.

Festering because I wondered if I can legitimately address this issue having lived just 40 years (gee, I hate admitting that), hopefully not even half my earthly life yet. I get told over and over again how young I am, but I’ve notice that the people saying this are, well, older than me.

The amount of days I truly feel young lessens with every passing year. I hear that age is a state of mind, but that just concerns me more since what my mind says about my age and what my body says are very different.

Because of my struggle with aging, the question of “How can I live a long life?” comes up from time to time.

How to Live a Long Life

I read a lot of books and magazines, and many of them at least touch on the topic of extending your life and looking and feeling younger. They include topics ranging from exercise and diet to managing stress and staying connected.

The Bible is also a part of my regular reading, and it also has a lot to say about living a long life. But not only does it just get at the physical side of life, it also gets how our character impacts the length of our days.

Consider the following Biblical instruction on how to live a long life.

  1. Fear God. (Proverbs 10:27)
  2. Get wisdom. (Proverbs 9:11)
  3. Obey God. (Deuteronomy 5:33)
  4. Honor your parents. (Ephesians 6:2-3)
  5. Avoid wickedness. (Ecclesiastes 7:17 & Psalm 55:23)
  6. Pursue God. (Psalm 91:9-16)

As I consider this instruction, I am acutely aware that it doesn’t always work. I mean, someone can follow this advice and still not live a long life in earthly terms. And I realize this is because God’s will doesn’t always happen on earth as it does in Heaven (think abortions and murder as extreme examples).

So, doing what the Bible says we need to do to live a long life does not guarantee increased years on this earth.

Yet, I know that my gift of a long life extends beyond the physical and into the eternal. Psalm 91:16 says that along with salvation comes the gift of a long life. It’s that gift that motivates me to live as long as a life this side of heaven as possible, living out His will on earth as it is done in Heaven.

3-28-13 long life 2Not Getting Any Older!

Even as I struggle with the aging of my body and still seek to live out God’s will on this earth, I find great comfort in knowing that what I see is not really reality.

Yes, my body is getting older, dying actually. That’s true for all of us. But the part of me that will live forever gets renewed every day. So, in a very real way, more real than the aging process I see in the mirror and feel in my joints, I AM NOT GETTING OLDER.

I find tremendous comfort in knowing that while my physical body ages and I can’t do anything about it, God renews my spirit daily (2 Corinthians 4: 16). And that spirit is what will live with Him in eternity.

As if that weren’t enough, I also will one day get a NEW BODY that won’t decay (1 Corinthians 15:53). Even though I can’t put my order in on exactly what age I want to be in that new body (29 would be nice), knowing I am getting a body that God intends to live for eternity is very exciting to me.

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