Aging with God’s Grace

April 13, 2019

by Maria Fontaine

“Though the process of aging continues, inwardly you grow stronger with the passing years. Those who live close to Me develop an inner aliveness that makes them seem youthful in spite of their years. Let My Life shine through you, as you walk in the Light with Me.”—Jesus1

Quite a few of us have reached the time that the Bible talks about in Psalm 90, verse 10—the threescore-and-ten-years mark. This indicates to me that a beautiful beginning is nearer than ever. With every year that passes, though we continue to live fully in the present, we are also preparing for the future, our final destination. It also says to me that my time here is growing shorter. Every minute takes on greater value.

When I see and hear about people my age and even younger going to be with the Lord, I think seriously about the possibility that my time to go to heaven could be any time.

As Christians we know Jesus, His wonderful promises of heaven and all that we have to look forward to. That gives us a strong incentive and motivation to keep working toward that goal. At the same time, however, we want to be sure that everything is in order in this present stage of our existence here on earth. We want to be sure that when our time comes to pass on to the next life, that we will have run a good race and finished our course here on earth to the best of our ability.

When we see so much yet to be done, we can feel a pull to stay in this life as long as we can so we can be a blessing to others for as long as God needs us here. We understand better Paul’s dilemma when he said, “I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”2

The author of the following poem describes the dilemma in this way:

O I would live longer, I gladly would stay,
Though “storm after storm rises dark o’er the way”;
Temptations and trials beset me, ’tis true,
Yet gladly I’d stay where there’s so much to do.

O I would live longer—not “away from my Lord”—
Forever he’s with me, fulfilling his word;
In sorrow I lean on his arm, for he’s near,
In darkness he speaks, and my spirit doth cheer.

Yes, I would live longer some prize to win,
Some soul to lead back from the dark paths of sin;
Some weak one to strengthen, some faint one to cheer,
And heaven will be sweeter for laboring here.

But—would I live longer? How can I decide
With Jesus in glory, still here to abide?
O Lord, leave not the decision to me.
Where best I can serve thee, Lord, there let me be.
—L. Kinney

Everyone faces tests and trials in many forms in this life, but when we reach our latter years, we are very apt to have some extra challenges, such as less energy, thinning or loss of hair, difficulty sleeping, memory issues, brittle bones, incontinence, an increased susceptibility to heart attacks and strokes. We move more slowly and feel weaker and are less able to do many of the things that we were able to do before, and we become less independent and find ourselves having to rely on others much more.

Our bodies start to wear out, and health issues we experienced when we were younger may get more intense, or we may develop other age-related issues. Some people my age are more prone to serious illnesses like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and others, but I also believe that Jesus sometimes uses the aging process to weaken some of the ties that hold us to this life as He prepares our hearts for the glorious time to come.

Nevertheless, you may also realize that there is more for you to do here; at least you want to be sure that you have done what you personally need to do before you take off to the incredibly amazing, wonderful next phase of your life. In the meantime, this transition phase is almost like the last laps of a marathon race. You’ve managed pretty well so far. However, when it comes to the last rounds, things can tend to get much harder. You question if you have the strength to keep running or not. What you do know from God’s Word, though, is that you are going to get over that finish line even if He has to carry you there, because He has promised to.

Or maybe you look at it as a mountain that you’ve been climbing. The peak isn’t quite in sight yet, but you’re already exhausted and you wonder if you can make it the rest of the way. What drives you on is the fact that you know that it’s so incredibly beautiful up there. That was one reason you made the decision to go for it!

Trying to reach your goal after you’ve worked so hard for so long is really tough!—You need to expend even more energy when your body has already been largely depleted of strength! The good news is that God knows you can do it.

I hear from many of you, and I look at your lives and I want to take each one of you in my arms and say: “Well done! You’ve already done so well! You just have a little further to go, so don’t give up, don’t get weary in well-doing. Even though you can’t do as much as you did before—you’re weaker, you’re frailer, sometimes housebound—you still have it in you to keep going as long as He wants you to.”

You already began your preparation in the greatest way possible years ago when you decided to give your life to Jesus. You committed to making Him the most important person in your life, and making His work, whatever He called you to, your most important career. So really, if you aren’t able to do another thing, congratulations! You’ve got it made, and Jesus is proud of you. There’s no question about that.

However, if you’re still here, that shows there must be some other things that you can do to help others and to even make your passing a smoother transition for yourself and others. For many people, there are practical things that need to be taken care of. Your loved ones need to know your wishes for when you pass; they need to know about your legal documents, such as your will; and there are many other tasks that need to be taken care of. If you don’t know what these are, you can Google them and get a lot of valuable information. These are important because they express consideration for your loved ones in making it easier for them. Whether you die in twenty years or ten years or in a year or even less, it’s still just as important to take care of these preparations, since you never know when they will be needed.

Also, there may be people whom you may want to give some valuable gifts to, in the form of your example of bearing the burdens of age graciously, passing on wisdom to others, continuing your prayer ministry, etc. There may be things you have wanted to say to people or do for them, and there just hasn’t been the opportunity or the time. It’s good to pray about those things so that when you come to the end of this life and you’re ready to go on to the next one, you will be happy that you were able to take care of them.

I’m not implying that each of us has unlimited time to sit around and think of things that we could do now to be a blessing to others. There’s so much that we already have to keep doing. Many of us have responsibilities, such as jobs, ministries, children, grandchildren, or spouses to help to care for, as well as continuing to minister to friends and acquaintances. Some of us have health conditions of our own and find that it just becomes harder to carry out our everyday activities. But these are a natural part of aging in this broken world. They are part of the tests and trials of life, the obstacles to be overcome in our latter years, the final set of hurdles to be jumped and challenges to be faced. You’re doing it, so keep going.

If God has brought you this far and you’ve made it these many years, you know that He’s going to get you the rest of the way. He’s already so proud of you, and all of heaven’s realm is rooting for you. He’s giving you the strength that you need to get through each day, one day at a time. You can thank and praise Him that every day of life brings you one step closer to the next life. However difficult it may seem here with the extra burdens of age, you can know that when you finally go home to heaven, His reward for a life lived for Him will be so great. These burdens of the present will be nothing compared to hearing Him say, “Well done, My wonderful, silver-haired, beloved friend. Come into My arms and you’ll see that it’s been worth it all!”

1 Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004).

2 Philippians 1:23–24 ESV.