"Growing Old Is Not A Bad Thing"
A few years back there was an article about Catherine Gay in the magazine, Mature Living. Her story was remarkable. Five days a week, she got up at 5:30 AM to join her walking group in a two mile walk. Two days a week she volunteered at the Texas Children’s Hospital. On Wednesdays she assisted with kitchen duty at her church. She had served as secretary of her church choir for over forty years. On Fridays, after registering out of town patients at the local hospital for free lodging, she delivered meals to the homebound on her list. In her spare time, she volunteered at the local Children’s Hospital, assisting the children with reading. She purchased her first computer just prior to the article. Her schedule would be remarkable for anyone, but what makes her story truly remarkable is that she was 94 years old, when the article was written.
Having recently retired, this story is especially inspiring for me. It reminds me that retirement does not mean sitting around and growing old. Instead, it broadens my opportunities of service, because I am no longer tied down to one position. It has given me the joy of pursing dreams of ministry that have been in my mind for years. It opens the way for God to fulfill His promise found in Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (NASB). It provides me with a sense of adventure filled with all the unknowns present when I first began my journey. It calls upon me to trust in God’s provision and direction for the future. It is an exciting time.
Before you begin to think I have returned to the foolish dreams of a young man, I assure you I am aware of the toll the aging process can take on a person, both mentally and physically. I have witnessed it in my years of ministry, in my own family and in my own body. The knowledge that my ability to do might be removed at any time causes me to want to do while I can. Instead of sitting down and waiting for what might be, I choose to follow after the model of Caleb in the Scripture. Listen to the words of Caleb as he spoke to Moses.
“And now behold, the Lord has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eight-five years old today. I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out as the Lord has spoken” (Joshua 14:10-12 NASB)
I take heart in knowing I am not alone. There is a growing army of people like myself. Our churches are filled with them. We can all choose to follow Caleb’s example or we can sit around seeking new ways to make ourselves comfortable. If we are to become the Caleb’s of our generation, we must first understand that retirement is a societal term, not a biblical one. God’s retirement program is the greatest one of all. When it is our time to participate in it, He will come and take us home. Until then, He has work for us to do. Let’s discover what it is and “just do it.” If we do, maybe someday, someone will write a story about us like the one about Catherine Gay.