Let Go and Grow Old

Most people dread the thought of growing older. We resist it. We do everything we can to feel young, look young, act young, and stay young. Women keep their age a secret. Men style their hair to cover their bald spots. People spend millions on cosmetics and procedures to cover up the effects of aging on their faces. 
We fear growing older for a couple of reasons. First, we fear that when we become old we won’t matter anymore. Our culture marginalizes the aged, and there is nothing a human being fears more than being marginalized and unknown. Second, we fear growing old because we fear death.  Each year that passes is one more that we will never get back, and no one knows when their years will run out. 
For Christians, these fears are irrational. There never comes a time when children of God cease to matter or be useful in the eyes of their Heavenly Father. They never cease to be useful in His hands. Also, death does not exist for those who have trusted their lives to Jesus. For Christians, death is just a gateway into a new and glorious state of being that lasts for the rest of eternity. 
For too long people have minimized the benefits of growing older. A survey of elderly characters in the Bible teaches God’s people that age should be embraced by God’s people. Let me give you a few examples.

1. People get smarter as they grow older.

A common objection to the flood narrative in Genesis arises when skeptics question how Noah was able to build this huge boat according to the exact plans of the Lord. However, when you think about the length of human life at that time in history, you can imagine how technology could advance so dramatically. Genesis 5:22 tells us that Noah was 500 years old before he ever fathered any children. Imagine how much a man could learn in 500 years. Think of the modern-day genius, Steve Jobs, and imagine what he could have accomplished if he were given upwards of 800 years to learn and advance in his understanding.

Not everyone is a genius, but the longer we live the more we learn. The more we learn, the more intelligent we become. I recently read one author who declared this truth, “young people learn new things faster, but old people know more.” For this reason, aging is a process to be embraced, not avoided.

2. God affords the aged an opportunity to invest the next generation.

In Numbers 20:12, God revealed to Moses that he was barred from entering into the promise land because he failed to follow the Lord’s clear instruction at the waters of Meribah. Moses, however, was not left without a legacy. He did not cease to matter just because he would not live to see the promise land dispossessed from the Canaanites. God simply modified His mission for Moses’ life. In Deuteronomy 3:28, we learn that God immediately tasked him with preparing Joshua, his assistant, to lead the people after him.
The Bible teaches that all are bound to die because of sin (Romans 5:14-18), but this does not mean that we will ever cease to matter or be useful to the Lord. We, like Moses, were commissioned to invest our lives in the future of God’s people. We leave a legacy by making disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to be obedient to Christ. The more time the Lord gives us on this earth the more opportunities He affords to invest in a legacy that stands to live for all eternity.

3. The elderly possesses the aptitude to intimately appreciate the love of God.

John 21:22 and the early church tradition leads us to believe that John was the only disciple to survive persecution and die as an old man in exile. Beyond the opportunity to live longer, what was John afforded by surviving into senior adulthood? He grew to understand more intimately the love of God. In the second chapter of his first letter, he wrote: “See what kind of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
Every day the Lord gives us is another day that we are allowed to experience the love of our Heavenly Father. The more we experience His love, the more we appreciate it. The more we appreciate His love, the better we are able to share it with others.