All my life I've had the blessing of being near men and women well in years who were full of life even though they were sometimes in their late 80's. Beyond the expected limitations of getting older, they lived with vigor. They still had deep fascination for being alive and were constantly about pursuits reflecting what they cared for most. If they could think straight and get out of bed in the morning, they were getting important stuff done.
This week, I had the privilege to sit in the company of men in their 70's, 80's and 90's who have followed Christ for decades.
I was taken by their presence, passion and praying.
Just being near men who served Jesus for many years and faced life's storms whether infirmity, financial or professional stresses, family problems, seasons of questioning and doubt, struggles with sin, church craziness or the loss of spouses, opened my eyes to what godly aging could look like. I recognized a certain weathered grace in them.They had a bearing forged by years of walking with Jesus. Years of service to the Gospel sculpted deep lines in them, lines of godly meaning easy to see and hear.
Equally ingratiating was the passion still flowing from them as they talked of the primacy of Jesus, their fascination with the mission of the Gospel, and the need for unity in the Church around him and his mission. They spoke as men still running hard for the prize, fueled by their longing to see his Kingdom come in this generation. While their fire was encased in old mens' bodies, their hearts were as a younger man's. In fact, they seemed as much dedicated to the cause of Christ as they had ever been, perhaps even more.
Then there was the way they prayed. Their voices had the physical tenor and tone of an old man, but their words had the quiet fire of warriors. They prayed for the things of God to be made manifest in this sorry world. You could hear the desire and conviction. These men are closer to the end of their races than maybe I am, but their fervency remains vibrant and virile. They prayed in earnest.
I hope to be like them if God grants me fullness of years. I tell people these days I want to be running harder for the laurel crown at the end of my days than when I began. By God's grace and my cooperation there will be no sauntering or jogging into the finish line for me. While life's injuries and scars may require me to limp or even crawl in, I want to be moving forward as hard as I can.
I hope someday my life will reflect what I saw in these white-haired men. May my loyalty to Jesus and his way show the same grace and winsome dignity to younger men and women as did theirs to me.
Not for my honor, but for his.
Make me able, Jesus.