Saturday, July 1, 2017

A Message from the Other Side of 60

At age 15, 25 or 39 if you asked me about crossing the age-threshold of 60, I would have had no comment. In fact, that passage would have been seen as a place set aside for grandparents, older people and Social Security recipients to park until they died. Now that I live beyond that marker, I have reconsidered my position.

When my mother was in her late 80’s, I asked her why she didn’t like going to the ministries offered by her church that were designed for older saints. She said, “Those meetings are filled with old people.” I knew mom meant that some of the people in those groups had allowed their age to define them out of a place of significance and she didn't like that option. Several years ago an older woman came to visit our church. She sat right on the front row in front of our worship leader. The guitar, bass, and drums were pounding out songs of strong worship music just inches from her glowing face. After the service, I asked her why she came. Her response, “I love feeling the life these young bring!”

In 2014, I handed over the reigns of our church in Medford to a great team of young leaders. When the Lord had me initiate our transition He did it with a new assignment in mind for Jan and me. Running a local church with its constant demands and meetings would not allow me to do the very things this new season would require of me. Some people thought I retired. In fact, some of my friends had no other way to define my new season. They thought at this age a person’s only option was retirement. I no longer try to correct them when they say, “Well, how is retirement?” Instead of always having to make a corrective response, I simply say, “Life is good!”

Since my perceived “retirement”, I have written three books, hundreds of blog articles, traveled constantly to speak in churches and conferences, coached pastors and churches, mentored people, lifted weights, walked the dog and asked God every morning to show me what He has planned for the day. I have come to see the hidden value in my transition – time. I now have the time to laser-focus my writing, teaching and mentoring. I am getting more done for the Kingdom of God now than in any previous season of my life.

We all change physically as we age. I have! What hasn’t changed is the passion for waking up each morning with a young faith that is contained in a not so young body. If you are older and feel old in your soul, ask God to give you the heart of a young warrior. You have a significant place in God’s Kingdom if you don’t believe the falsehoods about aging. You may no longer bring physical prowess to the conflict but you can bring the same young faith that David brought to the battle when he destroyed Goliath.

At this point in my life, I shy away from anything labeled as “old” – old ways of thinking, old ways of doing ministry and groups of old thinking people, no matter what their age. I distance myself from these mindsets because coasting to the finish line sounds boring. When offered a seat in the back of the room of life, I simply smile and walk forward to find a seat on the front row where I can experience the life of a youthful faith.  

1 comment:

  1. You spoke my heart, Garris. I don't hope to ever see the inside of a senior center, but they do serve a purpose. I'm close to 70, managing a christian bookstore in Albany, and can't wait to see what God will be doing every single day.