On my walk this morning I was listening to today’s podcast from Revive Our Hearts and, as always, was left inspired and also challenged. The series is on the life of Joshua, and today’s topic was Joshua in his old age. It was tempting to just half listen, since–contrary to the way my back and neck have been feeling lately–I am not what anyone but my kids would define as “old.” But I took Nancy’s advice and tuned in to see what I can learn now about growing old graciously.
And God spoke to me.
Not just about aging, although definitely about that. But the statement that jumped out at me is applicable for all of life.
At the very end, speaking of remaining faithful and strong and flourishing in late life, she said this:
I love that passage in Psalm 92 that says,
The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree. He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord; they shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing (vv. 12–14, NKJV).
You hear that word flourish three times in that passage. You know it’s one thing to flourish when you’re in your twenties, your thirties, your forties. But I want to be flourishing up until the very last day that God gives me breath. Fresh, fresh, fresh and flourishing in old age. It’s still possible! Fruitful, fresh, and flourishing.
And why? To declare that the Lord is upright. He is my rock and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
As soon as I heard that last sentence, I was convicted.
How often do I complain? Not of aging (yet), but lately with my neck and nerve problems–has my response to this injury declared that the Lord is upright?
I really thought hard about that. If we claim to be a child of God, to follow a God who is completely righteous and never grows weak and is strong and faithful, then what will those around us think about our God when we focus and dwell on our own weakness, our own failings, our own feeble bodies?
This goes further. If we claim to be following a God of love and kindness, what will those around us think about our God when we are rude to waiters, ignore store clerks, and look down critically at those who are different?
If we claim to be following a God who made Himself a servant, what will those around us think about our God when we fight for our own rights, refusing to give in, standing up for what we deserve?
If we claim Christ, call ourselves Christian, then the way we live declares things about Christ. This is part of what it means to “take the name of the Lord our God in vain.” If I take His name, and people around me know it, then my life, my speech, my treatment of others, my attitude in troubles, even the way I age–it all speaks about Him.
So I want to age graciously and flourish in old age–to declare that He is a rock even when I am weakening.
I want to be kind and loving in speech and deed even when it’s inconvenient or going against the grain of my flesh–to declare that He is always kind and loving.
I want to serve others instead of insisting on my own rights and comforts even when I’m tired or out of my “comfort zone”–to declare that He came to serve and not be served, to the point of laying down His life.
I want to face trials and suffering with quiet faith and trust instead of despair and doubt–to declare that He is good and in control and worthy of my trust.
Everything about my life declares things about God. I can live in a way that causes confusion when my life contradicts the ways of the God I claim to represent, in effect taking the name of the Lord my God in vain. Or I can live in a way that causes people to be drawn to Him, saying, “So that’s what God is like!”
May I live in such a way that declares truth about Him.