The Years are Piling On

This week is my 15th college reunion. Next year is my 20th high school reunion. Last weekend, I filled out a reference form for a friend of mine, and one of the questions was "how long have you known this person," and I realized I met him in junior high so we've been close friends for 25 years! 15, 20, 25 . . . I tell you, the years are piling on.

In a recent small group Bible study, which consists of all people around my age, we talked about this notion of growing older. We hopefully have many, many years of vitality left in us, but we're not in our teens and twenties anymore, in terms of youthfulness and bounce-back. Our bodies ache a little bit longer, wrinkles and gray hairs are popping up at a frightening pace, and our world perspectives have picked up a little bit of edge and caution rather than unfettered and wide-eyed enthusiasm.

Aging can be a wonderful process, but only if. If we define ourselves by our physical and mental vigor, and have trouble accepting the fact that we can no longer do all of what we used to, it can be a frustrating fight against ourselves and nature and God. But if we accept that God is good to us in all seasons of life, that we can compensate for our limitations with a depth of wisdom and perspective, and that even pains and limits are to be celebrated as reminders that in our humanness and vulnerability God can still do great and wondrous things in and through and for us, then we can age with grace and peace and dignity and happiness.

I am probably predilected to fight against growing old. Too much of my identity is wrapped up in competence and busyness and accomplishment. Growing old has meant going from doing everything to doing lots of things to being wise about what can and cannot be done, and that's been a hard transition for me. But, by God's grace, I am learning. Years from now, me complaining at age 37 about growing old will seem laughably naive and young. Hopefully, years from now, even if I'm physically or mentally less than I am now, I will still be happy, gracious, at peace, and still chugging along for and with my God.

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