John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel. – Luke 1:80
1 Corinthians 15:54-55
54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
As we age, almost all of our human aptitudes and strengths diminish and atrophy. There is one exception, the human spirit. It is capable of growing in strength throughout our lifetime without weakening. As John the Baptist aged, he grew ever stronger in his spirit (Luke 1:80).
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was” (Satchel Paige)?
The wiser mind mourns less for what age takes away than what it leaves behind (Wordsworth).
When you get to be eighty years old you have learned almost everything. The problem is being able to remember it (George Burns).
One of the challenges older adults face is the ability to retrieve information they have already acquired, “long-term memory.” But for some of us the biggest problem is, where did I park the car?
We often allow age to define our identities. Rather, we should allow our identity to determine how we think about our age. As many, but sadly not all, people age, their thoughts focus on what is most important. Those who refuse to focus on loss are capable of maximizing their mental and spiritual capacities.
One of the sorrows of growing older, is the loss of good friends, loved ones, and family. We also begin to contemplate our own departure for our home in heaven.
Paul provides a roadmap for dealing with these concerns.
When we lose our friends and loved ones, we experience sorrow, but it is only temporary. Why? As the Father’s children, our future and hope are not limited to only this world. Death does not get the final word. Resurrection does! All children of the King have the certain hope of resurrection and spending eternity with Him. Ask the Father and He may provide new friends even in old age.
Paul had no fear of death, and he longed to go home to the Father. But he realized that the Father had unfinished work for him to complete.
21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.
22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So, I really don’t know which is better.
23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.
24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.
25 Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith.
REFLECT & PRAY
Each of us has an expiration date. The Father has a plan and purpose for every one of His children. When our time of service is finished, the Father calls us home. We live to serve at His pleasure.
Father thank You for the good friends You have taken away and thank You for the new friends that You have provided. My life and my destiny are in Your hands.
During the period of the Judges (1200 BC to 1020 BC), a severe famine struck the land of Judah. Elimelech, and his wife, Naomi, with their two sons went to the land of Moab. Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died. Naomi’s sons married Moabite women named Ruth and Orpah [not to be confused with Oprah, whose name was supposed to be Orpah, but was misspelled on her birth certificate]. Then Naomi’s two sons also died. This is beginning to sound like a television soap opera.
Naomi had suffered so many direct blows. What was Naomi to do? She planned to leave Moab and return to the land of Judah. Naomi had told both of her daughters-in-law to stay on in Moab and remarry. Orpah returned home but Ruth did not. Ruth’s pledge of loyalty and devotion is delightful and charming even after three millennia. Ruth’s words are among the most memorable in all of Scripture. Few utterances in the Bible match her speech for sheer poetic beauty, and the extraordinary courage and spirituality (Block).
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.
17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!”
Naomi was bitter and remorseful because so much life had been drained from her.
20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me.”
21 “I went away full, but the LORD has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the LORD has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?”
But unknown to her, Naomi’s life and destiny had only begun, great chapters lie ahead for the childless widow. The name of the place where her journey takes her, provides a bit of foreshadowing, Bethlehem. It is an old-fashioned love story with a twist. Ruth meets Boaz. Boaz falls in love with her and marries her. Their first child is named Obed. Obed became the father of Jesse, and Jesse became the father of King David.
Naomi is blessed with a new family. The end of her story is the reversal of the beginning. The Father brought Ruth with her love and loyalty into Naomi’s life at just the right time to begin the restoration process. The Father provides Naomi with abundant compensation and removes her bitterness. The childless widow became the grandmother of Obed, and the great, great grandmother of King David.
Loyalty ties individuals together. True loyalty is seldom easy. It takes both patience and a willingness to be stretched and inconvenienced. Those who are genuinely loyal, adjust their schedules to meet the needs of those they serve. Loyalty often comes at a price. Ruth, for example, made a tremendous sacrifice by leaving her family and friends behind in order to serve Naomi.
Ultimately, however, godly loyalty tends to pay big dividends. The Father saw Ruth’s deep, abiding loyalty and rewarded her by giving her a loving husband, a beautiful son -and most of all, by placing her in the family line of Jesus Christ (Stanley).
Grow ever stronger in your spirit. Serve at His pleasure. Only He knows the end of your days on earth.