Youth is often valued over old age. Ironically, though, many people don’t try to age well, and some don’t seem to pay attention to age much at all. Others joke about it, while still others simply accept the increasingly poor health and decrease in overall vitality, activity, and mental acuity they say is an inevitable part of aging. Too many people see aging as a march toward inactivity and loneliness. It’s not meant to be that way, though.
Used by God
There are many examples in the Bible of God using people at mid-life and beyond in ways vastly beyond any activity in the first half of their lives. What they’re remembered for is what happens to them in the second half of their lives.
- Noah was 600 when God called him to build the ark. He died at 950.
- Abraham was 100 when God fulfilled his promise of a son. He died at 175.
- Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was 90 when she got pregnant, well past her child-bearing years. She died at 127.
- Moses was 80 when he led the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery. He died at 120.
- Aaron, Moses’ brother, was 83 when he served by Moses’ side. Aaron died at 123.
- Paul of New Testament fame was 30 when he was literally knocked off his horse and called to follow Christ. He died around age 60, a long life by first-century standards.
I realize the world was a very different place in Biblical times with no pollution, GMOs, or fast food and with walking the primary means of daily transportation. Still, none of these individuals were considered young when God used them in ways that even many non-Christians could cite.
In addition to these examples, the Bible provides a slew of advice and encouragement for the aging. It’s also notably absent of any warning toward expecting mental decline, loneliness, and depression, all-too-commonly now found amidst our culture’s aging population.
God’s Plan for Aging
God has a much different plan for us as we age than the one our culture is prescribing, but we must gather widely from scripture to find that wisdom. Consider the following advice specifically oriented toward aging.
- Don’t waste time. (Psalm 90:10,12)
- Be an example. (Psalm 70:7-9; Titus 2:1-5)
- Seek purpose. (Psalm 92:12-15)
- Be known for wisdom. (Proverbs 20:29)
- Be renewed. (Psalm 103:5; 2 Corinthians 4:16)
- Be faithful. (Proverbs 16:31)
- Declare God’s goodness. (Psalm 37:25; Psalm 71:14-18)
- Be ready. (Joel 2:28)
- Focus forward. (Isaiah 46:4; Ecclesiastes 7:10)
- Be completed. (2 Corinthians 4:16)
Some scientists believe we’ll learn to turn back, stop, and even reverse aging at some point, only adding to our culture’s insistence that younger is better. Certainly, doing what we can through lifestyle habits makes us good stewards of this tent (2 Corinthians 5:1) God has given as well as makes us better able to fulfill the aging directives scattered throughout scripture. We also now know that much of what we believe about the aging brain and physical deterioration is a myth and not something we have to accept as inevitable.
God wants us to embrace aging. He wants us to take all that we’ve experienced in the first half of life and live a second half that not only outpaces that first half but also sets the pace for those coming after us. You may not become as well-known as Moses, Noah, or Abraham, but you can be used just as powerfully by God. Never underestimate the potential of a life lived well for the one who gives wisdom, renews, and completes. Be ready to declare his goodness until you see him face to face.