“Lord, Let Me Grow Old Like Walter.”

2020-11-21 Grow Old With MeHow can we grow old gracefully? By this I mean that you can live at peace, gently interacting with others, eat enough food to stay healthy, wear clothes that are adequate for your weather, sleep quietly in a safe room, and rest from the trials of life.

This will allow you to enjoy your golden years
“before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened
and the clouds return after the rain,
in the day when the keepers of the house tremble,
and the strong men are bent,
and the grinders cease because they are few,
and those who look through the windows are dimmed,
and the doors on the street are shut,
when the sound of the grinding is low,
and one rises up at the sound of a bird,
and all the daughters of song are brought low,
and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home,
and the mourners go about the streets,
before the silver cord is snapped,
or the golden bowl is broken,
or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain,
or the wheel broken at the cistern,
and the dust returns to the earth as it was,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
(Ecclesiastes 12:2-7)

There are three properties we need in order to grow old gracefully: Trust, Mercy and Grace.

Trust is necessary as we begin to find many things slipping out of our control.  We cannot hear the news reports as clearly and information seems to accumulate faster than we can digest it.  Attention to details of what we own and where things are stored begins to fade, and if you do not trust those around you, you will constantly feel in danger of losing something valuable.

Trust in any person and you will be disappointed at some time; probably more than once!  Even trusting our God leaves us sometimes with confusion and wondering if He really knows what He is doing.  But that is when the tires of our trust must truly engage the terrain.  “Nothing happens TO a Christ-follower; filtered by His love, it only happens FOR us.” (Lane Martin)

Do we really believe that all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose?”  If so, then trust becomes an essential not just of our spiritual life, but of every aspect of life, including the people we trust, the weather we enjoy or endure, the supposed “accidents” that happen, the deterioration of our minds and decay of our bodies.  We must recognize Father brings people into our sphere of influence (and influence over us) as part of His plan, and if we trust HIM, it will extend to the people and circumstances around us.

And that is where Mercy comes in.  As we put our trust in flawed humans they will fail us, often unintentionally. But they will also misuse us, steal from us or take advantage of us.  But remember, HE allows it! 

So we must be prepared to forgive them, even before they ask for it, and sometimes they may never do so.  We are still responsible to Father to forgive them from our hearts – !  That is SOOOO hard to do, but God does not give us an option here.  If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  (See Matthew 5:43-48 and 6:14-15.)

And mercy will extend Grace to those who do not deserve it.  Whereas mercy is not getting the bad that we deserve, grace is defined as unmerited favor; i.e. getting something good that we do not deserve.  Just as we have received grace from The God Who Is Here, He expects us to extend that same grace to those who offend us. (See Matthew 18:21-35.)  After all, “we are all broken people to one degree or another.  And God loves using broken people, because that way we know it is Him working out His grace in us.” (Doug Johnston)

A friend told me of two old fellows who died many years ago. His maternal grandfather went to Heaven at 92 year old. Walter had dementia but loved God and was as sweet as apple pie. He trusted his care-givers even when he could not remember their names or that he had ever met them before. He was patient and kind and always grateful whenever anyone did anything for him. Everybody loved Walter, right up to the day he passed away.

Some years later, my friend’s 57 year old father was diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease. His wife once heard him praying, “Lord, let me grow old like Walter.” And he did. As his disease limited his understanding of the world around him and left him often confused about what was happening to him, he also finished this life expressing Trust, Mercy and Grace to those around him.

How can we grow old gracefully? Trust your care-giving Father; give Mercy to any who offend; extend undeserved Grace to everyone God brings across your path. And pray, “Lord, let me grow old like Walter.”

Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand Who saith “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”

[the first stanza of Rabbi Ben Ezra” by Robert Browning] (pictured above)

Nearing the End

The End.jpgHalf way through December, the year winds down to the end with only two weeks left to go.  I am planning to cease blogging for some time after January 6, and hope you enjoy reading the last few blogs.  I have no idea how WordPress will handle my lack of blogging, if they will cut me loose and/or delete blogs when I quit for a while.  But I suppose I can always come back and open a new one if these blogs disappear.

What will next year hold?  Some will die.  Some will prosper.  Some will experience searing pain.  Some will be comforted.  Some will rejoice, some will mourn.
Since no one knows the future,
    who can tell someone else what is to come?
As no one has power over the wind to contain it,
    so no one has power over the time of his death.”
(Ecclesiastes 8:7-8)

Of course, what we really mean when we ask such questions is “What will next year hold for  me?”  We are such a selfish lot, only concerned with our immediate comfort and conditions.  Did God intend for us to be so self-absorbed?  With seven billion of us here, plus the approximately seven billion who have been here and gone, I seriously doubt it.  That’s 14,000,000,000; that’s a lot of zeros; and some of us feel more like zeroes than others. 😦

Sunset.jpg

Back to the Garden (because I love the stories of Genesis, hidden somewhat in the gray mists of the ancient past).  Adam and Eve seemed blissfully unaware of their own condition until the Serpent came along and needled Eve into wondering if The God Who Is There was holding out on them.  The issue was trust.  Who would she believe?  The God who had supplied everything “very good” for them, or this lovely creature who said there was something missing.  (See Genesis 3.)

We know how that turned out.  And it has been that way ever since with the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve (or of Noah and his nameless wife, if you prefer).  The baby’s first cry is for comfort as he/she is removed from the warmth and darkness and quiet of the womb.  In an instant the infant becomes the center of its unknown universe, and everything in his/her life will be about “ME.”

Solomon.jpgSo what advice, what considerations, can I lead your mind to as we wind down another year?  “The Preacher,” Solomon, said it better than I ever could:

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
    and the years approach when you will say,
    “I find no pleasure in them,”
before the sun and the light
    and the moon and the stars grow dark,
    and the clouds return after the rain;
when the keepers of the house tremble,
    and the strong men stoop,
when the grinders cease because they are few,

    and those looking through the windows grow dim;
when the doors to the street are closed
    and the sound of grinding fades;
when people rise up at the sound of birds,
    but all their songs grow faint;
when people are afraid of heights
    and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
    and the grasshopper drags itself along
    and desire no longer is stirred.
Then people go to their eternal home
    and mourners go about the streets.
Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,

    and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
    and the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
    and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
Now all has been heard;

    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7; 12-14)

The End of the World 1.jpg

Happy New Year.