Aging Gracefully . . . and Biblically

Aging Gracefully

Is it possible to age gracefully? What does that even mean?

Been thinking recently about aging. It may have something to do with the fact that I’ve reached another milestone birthday. In a culture that worships youth, I wonder how long it will be before I become a living relic of a bygone era—someone merely tolerated by younger people. Then I wonder if the future is now.

It doesn’t help that I find myself saying many of the things that once caused me to roll my eyes when my mother said them decades ago. Things I had determined never to repeat. Sigh. Never say never!

I’ve known people who have modeled what it is to not age with grace. Many had health issues and painful life experiences. Their response was to grow more cranky and unhappy with each passing year.

I’ve also had some wonderful role models who exemplified how to age with grace. People who determined their circumstances would not drag them down. Instead, they kept looking up. Up toward heaven. Toward their Savior. Toward the gift of each new day, despite their difficulties. And I hope I’ve learned something from each of them.

The pages of the Bible are also filled with positive role models—people who aged gracefully. Here are 6 people I want to be like when I grow up!

  • Enoch

Enoch’s secret to aging gracefully was to “walk with God” (Genesis 5:22, 24). I love the word picture of walking with God. To walk with someone means you don’t run ahead and you don’t lag behind. That’s how I want to live: walking with God.

  • Moses

Age is not an obstacle to God’s call on our life. Moses was 80 years old when God called him to lead ancient Israel out of Egyptian slavery. What an encouragement it is to know that regardless of what the calendar says, God can still use me. We also read that Moses was more humble than anyone else (Numbers 12:3). Hmmm…availability and humility: a combination I need to cultivate!

  • Caleb

Caleb was one of the 12 spies sent by Moses to spy out the promised land and bring back a report. He stood with Joshua when the other 10 spies sowed seeds of doubt among the people. Forty-five years later, at the mature age of 85, Caleb requested a portion of the land that would be especially difficult to conquer—a land of “fortified cities” (Joshua 14:12). He was successful because he “followed the Lord God of Israel fully” (Joshua 14:14). Someone willing to stand against the crowd who follows God fully: that’s who I want to grow up to be!

  • Elizabeth

Elizabeth was the wife of a priest. She was unable to conceive, a disgrace among women at that time. But despite her disappointment and her advanced age (Luke 1:6-7), she was described as righteous in God’s sight. And God chose her to be the mother of the one who would herald the coming of Christ. What a woman! I want to age gracefully like Elizabeth—someone who trusts God despite the disappointments of life.

  • Simeon

Although we’re not told Simeon’s age, it appears he was an older man. We can conclude this because the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen the Christ (Luke 2:26). He was then content to leave this life, having seen the One who had been promised. I very much want to be like Simeon. Someone who is sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and follows His leading.

  • Anna

At 84 years old, Anna had been widowed for an estimated 60+ years. She spent her life serving and worshipping at the Temple “night and day” with fasting and prayer. When she heard Simeon’s pronouncement, she thanked God and spread the word to all who would listen that the Messiah had been born (Luke 2:38). I want to be like Anna as I age: someone who lives to serve and worship. Someone who lives with an attitude of gratitude. And someone who can’t stop talking about Jesus.

As the calendar pages turn and birthdays come and go, who are your role models for aging gracefully?

 


13 responses to “Aging Gracefully . . . and Biblically”

  1. Jane Roach says:

    Iv’e just added another role model to my list–YOU! Thanks for the pearls of wisdom to wear as I grow older!

  2. Ava Pennington says:

    Awww, Jane, thank you!. The feeling is mutual!

  3. kimberly moore says:

    I think our culture is so caught up in anti aging for our physical looks we forget about the spiritual aging! Thanks for these reminders that God has plans for the aging. I hope to never stop serving him!

  4. Ava Pennington says:

    Good point, Kimberly!

  5. Ellen Frogner says:

    I think the word graceful as our culture defines it refers to the ability to dance and walk without tripping over one’s feet. That was NEVER one of my accomplishments. I prefer to think of it as GRACE-FULL. And as a child of God, I AM full of grace. As are you, Ava. I am inspired by your perseverance in face of everything. Clearly a God thing…. what we cannot do, He can!

  6. Marti Pieper says:

    Happy Birthday to someone who exemplifies “aging gracefully.” Thanks for being a dear friend and sister in Christ (not to mention partner in crime). Daily prayers for you and your beloved. <3

  7. John Williamson says:

    I love this post, Ava.

    I like Elijah who in his last chapter was given a commission to pass the baton. Purposefully.

    The key, I believe, is to discern purpose in every stage.

    Psa 71:18 –
    And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me,
    Until I declare Your strength to this generation,
    Your power to all who are to come. (NASB95)

    1 Chron 28:20 –
    Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished.” (ESV)

  8. Ava Pennington says:

    Wow, John, great observation!
    Yes, aging gracefully definitely includes passing the baton!

  9. Geoff watson says:

    Each one of those who have commented are strong in the faith. It must be a joy to know them.

    I know Francis would be encouraged by the solidarity of these folks. Thanks for being one of them Ava,

  10. Sharon Russell says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful and God-centered teaching. In a moment of discouragement and self-pit, I asked God to take me home. His answer was that He wasn’t through with me yet. So I will continue to worship and help my fellowman as I am able

  11. Ava Pennington says:

    So glad the post was an encouragement, Sharon. God is still using you to glorify Him!

  12. Jennifer Bratt says:

    A timely reminder Ava. Sometimes we forget what God has already done regarding those Biblical characters and in our own lives. I recall a time when I reached a certain milestone birthday (Happy Brithday to you, by the way) and was in dispaire because I felt I hadn’t been sufficiently effective for the Lord. I then asked God what was the purpose of my life. His response was, “I don’t see your age, I see you.” That changed my life! Being human thought, we sometimes need these reminders, especially from a graceful teacher like yourself. Thanks.

  13. Ava Pennington says:

    Thank you, Jennifer.
    Yes, God sees more than our age!

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