Proverbs 31:30: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.”

Beauty is fleeting – at least that’s what we experience on planet Earth. A popular reference is flowers. They are known to be beautiful, and they are known to wilt. By the same token, human beauty won’t last. Our bodies wilt – against our will that is – and beauty industries take advantage of that.

The author of the book of Proverbs puts it quite bluntly: there is one thing that will outlast both beauty and charm: and that is our faith in God.

At first sight this doesn’t seem to make much sense, since technically our inner convictions have little to do with our physical appearance – or have they? – Don’t we find physically attractive people with no heart quite displeasing? So, beauty apparently has layers and does not stop at the surface level, and most importantly, genuine beauty always goes deep and has its roots in a kind heart. That’s a good thing to remember, especially as we age.

As nature has its seasons, so do we. Living past Spring and Summer we’ll be approaching the fall and winter seasons of our life. I believe we all struggle with the concept of a physical expiration date. Nobody really likes to expire. Ideally, we all want to stay fresh and young. On this note, there has been ongoing scientific research to raise human life expectancy to 150 and maybe 200 years – While this may sound wonderful we know that we only postpone inevitable death.

And let’s be honest: who wants to live on Earth as it is forever? Here is some interesting insight from the Bible with regards to human life expectancy (Genesis 6:1-3)

“When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.’” 

The threshold of 120 years was set with the purpose to prevent us humans to go insane. Life on Earth has its great moments, but generally speaking we navigate through quite a bit of challenges throughout our lifetime. Try to imagine doing this for a thousand years and you would walk in Methuselah’s shoes (Genesis 5:27):

“Methuselah lived a total of 969 years, and then he died.”

Let’s face it: our loss in physical attributes is only temporary. We lose our beauty – so what?! I’m convinced that our wrinkles instantly disappear in Heaven. Eternal life with God is the real deal. If anything, life on Earth is our glorious test run! Fighting our limited lifespan is an uphill battle that we won’t win. Turning to the Eternal One is a far better concept.  As we handle our present life with care, let’s not forget that we are all made to meet our Maker.  He is our ultimate dwelling place and eternal home.

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”   (Psalm 90:1+2)

Jeremiah 17:7-8: “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”

If we had a gold mine we would probably attempt to dig up all the gold we could find – and pretty much all of our energy, time and resources would go into this endeavor. Two things happen further down the line: besides adding gold to our bank account, at some point the mine will stop producing.  We dig up all the gold there is, and then we face the fact that our digging days are over; we’re now officially owners of an old mine.

It’s not so far-fetched to think of us as gold miners. The gold that each one of us has to discover and dig up is our talent. Some very prominent gold miners have been digging quite successfully, others maybe thinking they have missed the boat, still others don’t see their value at all and throw their lives into a trash bin.

We tend to think that successful miners are the epitome of a “dream come true”. Isn’t it great to be successful? Yes, it’s awesome when that happens, but success will quickly deflate in our eyes if this is all there is. All gold mines stop producing, it’s just a matter of time – and where does this leave us? How would we feel if tomorrow we get diagnosed with a debilitating disease? Just because our productive days are over, does that mean our valuable days are too?

The problem is, we all have a debilitating disease in our DNA – this is no intention to sound gloomy, but truth of the matter is: death is in everybody’s DNA. We either die young, or, if we are blessed with a long life, we get to experience the various stages of aging.

Bette Davis once said: “Old age is no place for sissies” and whoever gets to this place will probably agree; however, old age also reveals where our hopes and dreams lie. We will quickly run out of steam if our excitement is solely based on our physical appearance. Whether it’s our brains we bank on or our athleticism, our bodies are bound to change; and if we think our capabilities and attributes are the things that define us, then aging will bother us to no end.

What gets us excited and what gets us out of bed in the morning is where our roots go: Jeremiah compares people who trust in God with trees planted alongside a river, a river that never runs dry! Even though we change, the Lord does not change. He remains the strong rock we rely on. As a matter of fact, the longer we walk with Him and especially as our steps begin to falter, we realize the gold we struck in the Almighty. In His eyes our value does not go up and down like the New York stock market. We’re always cherished and valuable to Him. God does not love us any more when we’re strong and successful, and He does not love us any less as we get weak and our faculties fail. He loves us, frailties and all. This is priceless! I hope we all experience His tender love because God really is our die-hard fan; He is the source of our eternal hope, the center of our life and well-being, not to mention the center of the universe!

Posted in Age

Psalm 103:1-2: “Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.”

Sean Hutchinson writes about elephant memory: “At The Elephant Sanctuary — a non-profit organization based in Hohenwald, Tennessee — in 1999, an elephant named Jenny became very animated when a new elephant named Shirley arrived. After looking into the animals’ backgrounds, workers at the Sanctuary found that the two had performed with the same circus for only a few months—22 years earlier. The elephants are able to use their whopping 10.5-pound brains to encode identification and survival details, imprinting the key data to their memory to be recalled later. But an elephant’s amazing memory comes only with age and experience—and older, larger elephants are often a target of hunters. “The tragedy,” says Lewis, “is that when one of these [elephants] is lost to poaching, the information dies with her,” leaving the rest of the herd at a disadvantage—and having severe consequences for the species as a whole.”

In the wild it is crucial to remember in order to survive.  I believe the same is true spiritually.  If we quickly forget about the good things the Lord has orchestrated in our lives, it’s just a matter of time that we feel disjointed and become dissatisfied.  With advanced age comes advanced experience.  All the more reason to look back and count our blessings!  While the aging population has been driven to the margins of Western society, it is important to note that they do not play a marginal role in God’s kingdom. Leviticus 19:32 encourages us to value and respect the elderly:

“Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the Lord.”

On the opposite side of the age spectrum Paul wrote to Timothy, a young fellow believer, to not underestimate himself because of his young age (1 Timothy 4:12):

“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”

So let’s not fall into the trap of thinking less of ourselves because we belong to a certain age group.  Instead, let’s think about the good things the Lord has done for you and me.  Let’s make it our daily habit to praise Him!

“But time makes you bolder; even children get older, and I’m getting older too.” Steve Nicks

Posted in Age

Isaiah 46:4: “I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.”

We are born, we live, have relationships, friends, family, a spouse and children, become grandparents, and eventually we die. It’s in between all of this that we learn from others and pass the torch on to the next generation. Welcome to what we call the “circle of life”!

The “circle of life” is deeply embedded into the human psyche. If we have children we generally take great comfort in the fact that our gene pool lives on even though we pass away. When Jacob, alias Israel first embraced his son Joseph whom he had pictured dead for decades, he was ready to pass on that torch and die (Genesis 46:30):

“Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”

People with no children will try to leave a different kind of legacy. If we are honest, we just hate the notion that we will cease to exist at some point. It’s just something that rubs us the wrong way and feels unnatural to us, a good indicator that it didn’t used to be that way.

If we go back to the beginning, we find that creation was set up without corruption, without the aging process, and without death. So, originally, we’re not made to age. Aging set in when death entered creation, and death entered creation after the first couple decided to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, even though God advised Adam and Eve not to touch it (Genesis 2:17):

“But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

We are the first couple’s progeny and as such, death is in our gene pool, which means that we are programmed to age and pass away. Here is the good news though: God has been faithful. He has helped human beings throughout their lifespan offering a home for the human soul after their physical departure from this earth.

God has been graciously dealing with a problem that He did not create: death. God never wanted us to die. Not only did we get ourselves into deep trouble but we also dragged all of creation into it: Clothed in animal skins, the first to die in God’s new creation were animals. The first human being to experience death was Abel, murdered by his brother Cain, both events setting the stage of mankind’s violent tendencies.

What an amazing God we have coming through for us with an action plan to save us – if we let Him. Two things won’t change: God’s love for us, and the fact that we can make our own choices. We are free to take it or leave it. As far as God is concerned: He is for us. As far as we are concerned: we need to make up our minds. God wants to take care of us. Do we take His hand?

“You’re still young, that’s your fault
There’s so much you have to go through
Find a girl, settle down
If you want you can marry
Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy

All the times that I’ve cried
Keeping all the things I knew inside
It’s hard, but it’s harder to ignore it
If they were right I’d agree
But it’s them they know, not me
Now there’s a way
And I know that I have to go away
I know I have to go”

Song lyrics “Father and Son” by Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens. Since 1998 he operates a small hotel in London oriented towards Islamic travelers.)

Posted in Age

Psalm 37:25: “Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.”

Experience is gained with time, and with experience comes understanding. An old person remembers how it feels to be young. A young person doesn’t know how it feels to be old. The experienced can put themselves in other people’s shoes because they have walked that road before. They’ve been there, done that. There’s bad experience, and there’s good ones – the best one is God’s love flow all through the years.  It is great to stand up and testify to the fact that you’ve lived many years yet you have never seen God abandoning His children. That’s the beauty of experience. That’s the beauty of age.

Depending on your outlook on life age will make you kinder with the increasing ability to understand where people are coming from. When we see the light we get a glimpse of God’s profound grace gathering us and saving us from the certain fate of self-destruction. When we understand that God is here to save us, not to condemn us, our experience becomes our crown and glory because it makes us insightful and merciful; and as we plunge into life with all its ups and downs, our relationship with God and people grows richer and deeper as the years go by.

Unfortunately, age comes with nasty side-effects. God eliminates those once we proceed to the other side of heaven. Throughout our lifetime Jesus is well able to maneuver us through treacherous wilderness, valleys of trouble, breathtaking mountain peak moments, and times of brokenness, loss and despair because God’s Son has been on both sides of Heaven.  He walked the dusty deserts of the Middle East, developed friendships, encountered enemies, suffered betrayal, and traversed the valley of the shadow of death.  He is with us every step of the way until we reach the other side. Then we can say with Jesus: “We’ve seen both sides”. Nobody can take that crown of experience away from us.

Proverbs 20:29: “The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.”

Posted in Age