Recently, Judy and I celebrated my 80th birthday with my sister in Northern Michigan (UP), where I was born and raised by my Finnish parents. Having left home when I was 18, venturing out to California, coming to faith at a Bible school and meeting my “Rachel” at the well, reaching 80 is a milestone both physically and spiritually.
I now have a longer view of history in which to celebrate and share the mercy and goodness of the Lord. I always told my family, “I’m shooting for 80.” Now that I have made it, I still have some spiritual “juice” left in my tank. Physically, I am slowing down, but spiritually and mentally I am feeling strong.
Psalm 92:12-15 is marked “old age” in my Bible: “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green (Psalm 92:12-15). O Lord, keep my spirit open so I don’t get brittle and worn out. May your Spirit keep me fresh and green. I want to flow in the power of your Spirit, flourishing in my 80’s. Help me to “leave it all out on the spiritual field” for You.
Deut. 34:7 tells us, “Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever.” Moses didn’t stay forever youthful. But he did stay useful and faithful to God. Is. 46:4 is also marked “in old age.” “Even in 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.” I thank you, Lord, for carrying me this far on the journey, sustaining and rescuing me through all these years.
I want to sing, praise, and even shout with Jeremiah when he declares, “But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left” (Lam. 3:21b-24 Message). At 80 I can let it all out, because He is all I have left. Praise you Jesus; I just want to tell of your faithfulness to a generation without a lot of hope.
We might all pray with the Psalmist, “Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone” (Ps 71:9). The psalmist later shares a wonderful testimony that we can embrace whenever we begin the last leg of our individual journeys. “O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me” (Ps 71:17-18 NLT).
As we all draw closer to our eternal home, let us be “at home in his love.” “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commandments, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done – keep my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love” (John 15:9-10 Message).