“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’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.