For the past few years every August when I celebrate my birthday, I do what probably many of you my age do…. wonder how many more birthdays I’ll be blessed to celebrate. My dad’s life ended when he was 64. At the time I was 17 and thought “at least Dad had a good long life”. Ha. 64 is so very very young. The closer I get to it, the younger it seems.
And then I ponder what my life will look like as the years pass. Probably many of you do the same. It’s not that I lose sleep while pondering, or even feel any real anxiety over the subject. But I do wonder from time to time what my “best if used by” date might be. 😁 Shelf life, if you will.
Right now I still feel like the baby of the family, young at heart and still struggling to go ahead and grow up already. The mirror tells me otherwise. And the fact that my oldest child is 40 (FORTY) tells me that time has been whizzing on by. And that I’m…..uh…..not young anymore.
In a conversation with one of my sisters recently we were visiting about the change in family dynamics that comes with aging. As young mothers, our roles involved daily action. We were intertwined in every day of our family’s life. And that continued on for years, decades even. Then slowly, subtly, the roles change. It’s not a bad change, don’t get me wrong. But we go from being active participants to less active participants to eventually (hopefully) much-loved spectators. At that point, we kind of get put on a shelf and only come down from the shelf as desired/needed by our younger family members. And again, this is not necessarily a bad change. A lot of enjoyment can occur while on that shelf if we have the right perspective. We still have great value and still have a lot to offer to others while on the shelf.
We’re not alone on the shelf. God promises to be with us, and never fail us. Not only does God never fail us, He’s not even able to fail us!!! Failing is one thing God isn’t able to do. His love never fails. He wants us to just chill and rest in the promise that He’s God and we’re not. Whew!! Seriously, isn’t that a relief?? Enjoy the shelf!!
Often God has the daunting task of encouraging me to remain on the shelf. He asks me to gently let go of my desire to jump down and fix what isn’t mine to fix. The scripture comes to mind: “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” Ps 141:3. 😉 And of course “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding”. Prov 3:5. I would paraphrase the last part to say “don’t even begin to expect to understand”. Just trust Him. Just. Trust. Him.
So in regards to my personal shelf life there’s really only one pressing concern that I have. I want to finish well. That would be the one thing that might keep me awake at night from time to time. Praying that God would keep me from becoming a grouchy bitter cynical old person who gets left alone on the shelf because no one can bear the thought of being around me. Praying that my testimony for Jesus would never be negated and erased because of a whiny, sour, negative attitude. That would be the greatest tragedy I could imagine.
It occurs to me, though, that even if grouchy, bitter, cynical does appear at some point, we can still finish well. Confession is always a good thing. Forgiveness and redemption and amazing grace is always promised to every one of us. We’re not finished until…. we’re stepping across the threshold of heaven and into the arms of Jesus who will say, “Well done, good and faithful one, come on in and I’ll complete the plan I had in mind for you when I created you.”
The other day in my morning devotions I read from Our Daily Bread something that brought me hope and I want to share it with you:
“If through contented and cheerful old age we show others the fullness and deepness of God, we’ll be useful to the end of our days. Old age does not have to focus on declining health, pining over what once was. It can also be full of tranquility and mirth and courage and kindness, the fruit of those who have grown old with God.” (written by David Roper).
Ps 92: 13-14 “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord….shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing”.