Monday, November 26, 2007

Putting Age in Perspective

An acquaintance of mine recently asked a group of women that I'm a part of if we ever felt like the best years of my life were behind us... she is struggling with transition issues (children growing older, changing her "roles" in life, etc.).

Here is how I responded:

There's a book I've been reading, called "The Best Half of Life" by Ray & Anne Ortlund... and in it, Anne talks a lot about how the last half of our life can be our most useful and joyful half, if we are purposeful and see the hope in it. I am already beginning to adjust my mind to thinking this way-- not that NOW is the "time of my life" (which is what our culture SCREAMS at us), because I'm still in my 20's... but that my usefulness and joyful service will not run out until my life does. That the last half of my life (which, according to the world, should be filled with maladies, medicines, depression, and a critical, unsatisfied spirit which always talks about "the good old days") will be even better, even more useful, even more fulfilling, and even more effective for the Kingdom, as was the first half of my life. And then I will hope to hear those sweet words, "well done, good and faithful servant."

Something she (Anne Ortlund) wrote has really stuck with me. She said her life verse is Proverbs 4:18- "The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn; it shines brighter and brighter until full day"... she prays that God will make her life like that... never diminishing or becoming less bright... but that her life will continually burn brighter and brighter until she burns out, at which point she'll be in His presence.

That's something that resonates with my heart- maybe it will with yours too.

This is something that has been on my mind a lot lately- - how unaware we are of the way our culture lies to us, telling us that the best years of our lives are those when we are most foolish and clueless about life. NO- Christian woman! Don't buy into the lie. The best years of our lives are to come... the best years, when we are most wise, most experienced, and can be used for the Kingdom of God in the most fine-tuned way are AHEAD of us!

Part of the problem is that it is ingrained into us to only think of the present-- to "live in the now". And while it's true that we do need to be focused on usefulness and spiritual growth today, we also need to balance that out with verses like James 4:14, "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." We need to recognize how quickly life passes... and learn from those who have gone before us. If life indeed passes quickly, then I don't want to make the foolish mistake of being entirely wrapped up in the "now".

See, I'm 28 right now. Many of you are in different places, age-wise. But here's the deal: I could spend the next couple of birthdays lamenting the loss of my youth... then in ten years, do that again, and then in ten years, go through it once again. I'm not suggesting that there won't be any adjusting to seeing a different number on the page when I write my age. Nor am I making light of the wrinkles and sags that I'll undoubtedly find multiplied on my body twenty years from now. Nor am I minimizing the true biological and hormonal changes that women of various ages have to adjust to.

But what I AM saying is this: I want to age gloriously. I want to burn brighter and brighter, like Proverbs says. I want to delight in the fact that I am closer to meeting my Savior, and that I am (prayerfully and hopefully) wiser and more like Christ than I was in my younger years, rather than to be downcast because I am not as young, hip, and shapely as I was when I was ____ years old.

Don't you want that?

I don't want to be a woman who pines for days gone by... instead, I want to be one who is able to rejoice at the things that have passed, rejoice in "today", AND rejoice in what God will do in the future! Let's not buy into the lies of the world and have our years and our joy stolen from us. Be useful now, yes, whether you are 24 or 44 or 64... but also let your mind joyfully wander to those future days, when your body may be fading, but your spirit, your wisdom, and your countenance will be all the brighter in shining for the Lord Jesus.

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