1. How do you speak of your death?
Jesus did not experience the aging process, but he faced death. From his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and several discussions with his disciples, it is apparent that he knew the hour and details of his coming crucifixion. Surprisingly, Jesus does not speak of death in his upper room discourse, John 13-17. More than twenty times, however, he declares that he is going to the Father! With this simple phrase, Jesus gives us hope and assurance. Phrases like Passing away or kicking the bucket don’t do this. The words we choose are potent with power. How do you speak and/or even think of yourself in this season of life?
2. Are you “out-of-date” OR gaining an eternal perspective?
With electronics, the news is always available. Observing the way headlines and heroes constantly change, how can we believe the latest is best or the most important? I am coming to believe that being up-to-date is a questionable, perhaps a time-wasting goal. Instead of news, trends and style, why not pursue truth? By truth, I mean an eternal, biblical perspective that will enable us to understand the signs of the times like the sons of Issachar, 1 Chronicles 12:32. God’s perspective, wisdom, requires a lifetime of study. If you are being blessed with long life, might this be a worthy pursuit?
3. Are you “getting old” OR growing closer to Jesus?
Even when we are good stewards of the fearfully and wonderfully made bodies God has given us, we age. In Ecclesiastes 12, Solomon is excruciatingly clear about that. Thankfully, Paul looks beyond the physical in 2 Corinthians 4:16. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. The parable of the Vine in John 15 expands the idea of inward renewal to spiritual growth and fruitfulness—depending on our relationship with Jesus Christ. A productive, fruitful life does not depend on our age or season of life but whether or not we remain connected to the Vine, Jesus Christ.
4. Are you “losing influence” OR being pruned by the Vinedresser?
In John 15, Jesus also describes life changes as pruning. In Secrets of the Vine, Bruce Wilkinson explains that pruning does not occur because you did something wrong. You are pruned when you are doing something right. The pruning of the Vinedresser is to stimulate still more fruit. In your 4th quarter, there are many reasons you might feel you are losing influence, leadership, or status—retirement, an emptying nest, or a newly multi-generational home. How easily one can misinterpret an apparent setback and become discouraged. Sadly our culture so devalues older adults, we tend to devalue ourselves. I often hear very negative comments—Another door has shut. I can’t do that anymore. Please re-evaluate changing circumstances to see if God might be pruning you? Is the Vinedresser calling you to eliminate some pursuits in order to concentrate on others so that he may bless you with still more fruitfulness?
5. Are you mourning the loss of youth OR celebrating long life?
Please join me and boycott all doomsday, over-the-hill, black themed birthday parties. Life, long life, is a precious gift to be celebrated and enjoyed—not mourned. Psalm 91:16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation. I am choosing to celebrate my 75th birthday in 2019. This prodigal came home to God in her thirties. The loving Vinedresser lifted me up and welcomed me back into his family. Every season since then, however, he has pruned me! I will be inviting my prayer partners to come celebrate with me and pray for a very fruitful 4th quarter. Psalm 92:14 They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.
6. Do you have a ministry plan for your 4th quarter? I believe a good old age sets us up to serve God and his people as never before.
- Many of life’s decisions and major distractions have been dealt with—education, careers, marriage, child-rearing, where and how to live.
- We have survived the storms of life. Matthew 7:24-27
- We have made life-altering blunders and encountered grace. Ephesians 2:8
- We know the Word, and we have seen its truth at work. John 8:32
- Much has been tried, proven successful, and pruned. John 15:2
- We know we have less time, so we have more focus. Psalm 90:12
- We know Jesus and his faithfulness. Isaiah 46:4 Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
In spite these advantages, the world’s message to older adults is so very negative. Ageism is rampant among us. Please do not listen to the lies but embrace the promises in Psalm 91:16, Psalm 92:14, and Isaiah 46:4. Our bodies are aging, but we are not finished until we go to the Father!!