There is often a misconception that the older we get, the less malleable and willing to change we are. I’ve been seeing that it is often quite the contrary! As we age, our bodies, minds, and spirits experience innumerable changes. So many new factors enter our lives that we’re driven to change previous habits and accept new scenarios. Studies have shown that even older people can produce new brain cells.1
For the believer, this is not only possible, but quite doable. “So we aren’t depressed. But even if our bodies are breaking down on the outside, the person that we are on the inside is being renewed every day.”2 Just because our bodies are deteriorating doesn’t mean that God is finished with us!
In my case, as I grow older, I’ve had to implement quite a few changes in how I operate. For example, I’ve been used to certain physical exercises that I’ve come to realize I can’t engage in anymore, as age comes with a gradual decrease of physical capacity, and my muscles, nerves, and bones can’t take the stress and strain they used to. I can’t sustain the same fast pace that I could before, and that means I have to move on to better age-friendly routines.
Until recently, I was playing in a basketball team. The guys were very accommodating and made me feel welcome and like I was an asset to the group. All good, until I began to limp, and running the full court became increasingly—and noticeably—difficult. During one game, the public in the stands gave me a round of applause when I was replaced by the coach. I appreciated the support, but in truth, it was rather humbling, and I realized I had to come to grips with my condition. After some tests, it became clear I needed a hip replacement before I would be able to play ball again. In the meantime, my main workout has become cycling, which is a lot less taxing on my hip.
The Bible has a lot to say about changes, but it doesn’t say anywhere that they’re reserved for the young or middle-aged. Whether we’re starting the climb or we’re reaching the top of the hill, we have to continue growing to stay close to God and keep moving forward. Even though God is called the Ancient of days,3 His creation experiences constant cycles of change and seasons of life—a cheerful thought for us older folks.
I don’t pretend to be young. I’ve embraced my age and taken it as an opportunity to learn new things, adopt new perspectives, and flow with my changes and challenges as much as possible. Stay young in spirit, yes, but concede that I am unyoung in body—and hopefully, I have grown in judgment and wisdom.
Here are a few of the changes I’ve experienced in my latter years. If you’re older, you might try drafting your own list.
- I have acquired a greater awareness of health and wellness. My wife and I pay more attention to our nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc., and we try to lead healthier, more balanced lives.
- I value friends and family more, as I realize that they may not always be around. I now try to stay more in touch with loved ones, get involved positively in their lives, and be there for them when they need help.
- God’s Word has become more real to me. I delve into it with greater depth and regularly discover new truths or unearth vintage ones.
- Because I have less physical strength, I have to organize my work and my days in order to use my time better. I’m striving to be more efficient. I try to keep an ongoing to-do list, set an alarm for appointments, and write down important work details and business transactions.
- There are plenty of things that we will need to give up in old age, to be sure, yet whatever we give up, God can help us to replace with something else for that season of life.
- Old age can also be a time of dusting off old, shelved dreams and putting forth an effort to fulfill them. What dream do you have that you can now attempt to realize?
- In many ways my faith has been put to a greater test. But that has strengthened me spiritually.
I don’t want to paint a rosy picture of old age, because there are a lot of inherent difficulties, but even these serve to draw us closer to God. God has started a good work in us, and He will perform it until the end.4
The apostle Paul expressed this very clearly when he said: “My friends, I don’t feel I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run toward the goal, so I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done.”5