Last week I read a lovely story of a elderly lady (Miriam Schmierer) who has just turned 111 (born 20 August 1899) - she has experienced three different centuries, outlived her husband, two sons, three brothers and five sisters and was born before Australia had chosen its first prime minister. Asked about her long life, she replied:
"My main interest is my spiritual life, my faith," she said.
"Because of my age I have had more opportunity to spread the word about my faith and the benefits of living a Christian life. I'm very fortunate to still have my memory and be able to write."I was touched by these words, finding them inspirational in this day where people no longer wish to live a Christian life. It is my birthday today and I am a year older - yes, I know this normally occurs and there isn’t much I can do about it. But it got me thinking. I am in my 40’s (quite a few years before I reach 50!), my children are almost grown up and soon, within a few years, we will be empty-nesters. When I read blogs written by young Christian women I read about their dreams for the future and I wonder about us more mature women. What is our place in the world, in particular when we reach those "older years" (no, not quite there yet).
Douglas MacArthur is quoted as saying, “Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest in life and living wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair – these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust.” As we advance in years, we need to consider that “how” we grow old is far more important than how “old” we grow.
The Bible talks about the important role we are to play in teaching and sharing our faith, just like Mrs Schmierer has been doing:
That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (Titus 2:2-4)
Wow, what an important role we have to play - getting older, according the Bible, this doesn’t mean “kicking up one’s heels” or “going slightly wild” or perhaps “spending all the inheritance so the children don’t get any” (I’m sure you have heard of these being said). However for older Christian men and women it means playing a important role in the formation of the next generation, helping them to start their life's journey, sharing our experiences and being a guiding hand.
In this country, when people retire, the first thing you hear is "I'm off on a holiday", their first thoughts are not of others but to themselves. God doesn't want us to look selfishly at ourselves but to those around us. To share our wisdom, to teach the next generation. So even though I can now see grey strands in my hair, the weight isn't moving as fast as it should and the years are starting to advance (ok - not that fast), I do have something very exiting to look forward to as I grow older and I would love to be Mrs Miriam Schmierer, who at 111 still is eager to share the word of God with all those around her.
If you all lived much closer - you would be very welcome to come and share my birthday cake - I plan to make a dark chocolate cheesecake - and forget about dieting and carrot sticks for a day.
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