4. Grace full ageing celebrates the ongoing spiritual renewal of senior adults
Up to this point, I have admittedly painted a rather bleak picture of aging - frail, vulnerable, fearful. While the Bible does speak candidly about the ageing process, there is another side to grace-full ageing.
God works daily to change the grace-filled believer into His image. Regardless of their exterior appearance and vitality, the New Testament epistles juxtapose our external ageing with our inner spiritual renewal. This is the astonishing hope for those who experience grace-full living.
“Although outwardly we are wasting away, we are being renewed inwardly, day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
While Paul candidly describes our frail, physical bodies as mere “tents”(2 Corinthians 5:1) that waste away, he also declares that every believer is currently in the process of being “transformed into His image with ever increasing glory” ( 2 Corinthians 3: 18). This is not merely a future reality but an ever present work of God..
These and other New Testament passages reveal what the biblical writers tried to understand and declare to us. We are not merely restored to a pre-fallen state of walking with God in a lush garden but welcomed into the family and presence of God.
I have to let that concept settle in my mind. A study of ageing bodies may enlighten our scientific knowledge of biology and physiology but a study of the inner spiritual soul enlightens our wisdom and our grasp of what it means to be created in His image.
Romans 12:1 speaks to seniors. We offer our bodies and minds as a living sacrifice, seeking not to be conformed to the pattern of this world, but rather to be transformed internally by the renewing of our minds and attitudes. While we may wither God continues to work- when we allow Him to do so. In my role as chaplain, I have the opportunity to walk beside believers, failing eyes, unsteady gait, memory loss, on their journeys of being transformed into His image.
Recently one of our residents died at the age of ninety two. She was blind, deaf and confined to a wheelchair. One of our staff admiringly noted, “ I want to be like her for however long I live- she was up for anything, even though blind.” When nursing students came through our building during their practicums, they wanted to be assigned to this dear saint, because of her gracious attitude despite her many limitations.
Singing the old Gospel songs reinvigorates seniors as they celebrate God's grace, even sometimes through pain and lost
Questions and Reflections:
- Who do you know or remember that evidenced spiritual growth despite the aging process? Why were they able to grow inwardly?