As long as the Lord gives me strength

Papa John Rinehart holding court with the college kids

“You’re planning to spend an entire month on a mission trip?”

I stared at my father in disbelief. At 75 years of age, the man was planning to travel halfway around the world with a group of college kids from Fellowship of Christian Athletes. With a variety of health issues, not the least of which was spinal stenosis, my dad’s days as an athlete are long gone. But his passion for life is not.

“As long as the Lord gives me strength,” he countered, “I plan to keep going.” And go he did, and still does, leaving a wonderful legacy and living out Psalm 146:2,

I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

I’ve learned so many lessons from my dad. As I watch the years come and go, I’m paying careful attention to what he and many others are teaching me about aging gracefully in Christ.

1. Ministry knows no age limits.

No matter our age, we can always find a place to serve the Lord. A bivocational minister, my father still fills pulpits on occasion and takes every opportunity to mentor young pastors. He also makes time to visit in hospitals, jails and nursing homes.

2. Know your body.

There is no shortage of information touting the benefits of exercise, but it’s also important to recognize when we need to rest. Or when something isn’t quite right. Dad began having back pain, which he ignored until his feet grew numb and he could no longer walk without excruciating pain. After a successful back surgery, he’s in physical therapy and learning to be more vigilant with his health.

3. Never stop learning.

The annals of Cognitive Psychology are full of reports boasting the benefits of being a lifelong learner. From heightened brain function to an improved sense of well-being, the learning process is good for us. Continuing to freelance as an electrical engineer, Dad’s mind stays sharp as he keeps abreast of the latest technologies in his field. An added benefit: it broadens his circle of relationships.

4. Life is better with friends and family.

“It is not good that the man should be alone,” God declared in Genesis 2:18. He designed us for community. We live in a time that offers so many options that connect us, such as social media, email and texting. But those don’t really help us to bond. Connections can certainly encourage us, but there’s no substitute for face-to-face interactions and the intimacy that comes from sharing real life moments together.

With the passing of my mother last January, we’ve reflected on so much of life and legacy. Paul’s words ring in my ears—to fight the good fight and keep the faith until I finish my race (2 Tim 4:7). God alone knows when that will be so I hope to faithfully keep going, like Dad, as long as the Lord gives me strength.

Susan Stilwell

Susan Stilwell consults, writes and speaks on a variety of topics. Her clients appreciate her technical expertise and attention to detail on their websites, projects, and social media strategies. Technical "how-tos" are Susan's favorite articles to write. You can find her working as a blog designer and contributing writer at Fistbump Media. Susan also serves as a hospital chaplain associate and is a voracious scripture memorizer. She's a conference speaker and passionate expositor of God’s Word, and active on Twitter, Facebook, and

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    1. Thanks for taking time to read and comment, Ginger. My dad is leaving an amazing legacy, not to mention some BIG shoes for the rest of us to fill! So grateful for his example.

  1. What a wonderful example you have of aging intentionally, in your dear old Dad.
    What a treasure he seems to be~!
    Thanks for sharing these tips Susan as some of us are studying aging intentionally, at the moment.
    I trust you are back to full health and strength now?
    Hope so~!\Love,

  2. I love your dad and love and MISS hanging out with you!! I love to read your articles, you never disappoint!! Give him a hug from me!

  3. So wonderfully written my friend. I think you have an idea of what your Dad means to me. He has been one of the best mentors / friends I have had. I don’t have words that adequately express what your family means to us. God bless.

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