Written by Fr. Dale Minor - The Reclaim Ministry
Aging is a fact of life; it is what we do. When we are children, it is a vision of grown-up freedoms which can’t come fast enough. As young adults, it exists as some future calamity which perhaps can be avoided if we just live fast enough and smart enough. By middle age we have realized it is inevitable, yet we don’t know what to do with it; we mostly try to disguise it. As the years pass, we begin to take our aging more seriously, particularly as we deal with those who have died or are near death, and face our own mortality.
A perceived goal is to age gracefully. Some seem to age slowly, others do it more efficiently. For some, the process is an ordeal, for others it is an adventure. For those of faith, it’s a process with a glorious end. Yet it remains for us to live the life we are given, and we do it best if we have learned to age stubbornly.
Now, aging stubbornly does not mean being in denial. It is not about stubbornly denying our mortality. Instead, aging stubbornly speaks to the process in which we march steadily forward with a purpose. It means to acknowledge that God had a purpose for each of us when He created us. Our goal is to work out that purpose, and we do it to the degree we are able to hear Him clearly and follow Him faithfully. St. Paul called it running the race with the goal of seeking the prize of that upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Ref. Phil. 3:14) In short, aging stubbornly is to acknowledge that death to this life is a certainty, but one for which God has a remedy. Ours is to seek it steadfastly, -- that is, stubbornly.
The problem with aging seems to be that the inevitable changes which occur in our person and in those around us cause us to lose focus on our purpose. Rather than to focus on the prize, as St. Paul defined it, we become focused on our immediate situation. It has been said that a sure sign of getting old is when our primary conversations concern bodily functions; those which work and those which don’t. This goes along with the saying, “getting old isn’t for sissies.”
However, we can better handle and actually enjoy our aging when we are able to refocus on the task God has prepared for us. While we understand our greater call to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and souls and minds, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mt. 22:36); we must also deal with the specific task God has ordained for each day.
Trust in the Lord means we maintain a confident vision of the bigger picture while concentrating on the present. It acknowledges that which the Lord God has prepared for each of us from the beginning, and encourages us to live out the purpose for which we have been uniquely selected. We are assured that the Lord will not call us to do anything for which He has not first prepared us. Therefore, any limitations we think we have can be overcome by accepting the fact that we live to fulfill His purpose. And we discover His purpose only as we stay focused on Him, remain steadfast in our faith, and are willing to take just one more step.
We live because He wants us to live, and we do it best when we are determined to age stubbornly for Him.