Happy 2012!  The first month of the new year is almost past. How can that be?
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I just read these words today from Job 14:5: Man’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. The older I get, it seems the faster the days pass. What’s up with that? I read this verse this morning and felt a pull of emotions. On the one hand, I trust God with my life and find comfort that He is in control of my future. But, something in me balks a little at the idea that there are limits. I know that it’s the mature person who can realistically recognize their own limits, but there’s still this part of me that doesn’t like to think about the limits–especially the ones brought on by age.
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I thought about the days ahead in 2012 and I wonder what they will hold. I want my part in that equation to include the commitment to live each day with God honoring spiritual and physical energy. There are some limits that need to be explored this year. I’m not talking about rebellion, I’m talking about reality. I look forward to the stretch!

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©Brenda Pace, 2012

I joked with several people this past week that I have recently been described as a “seasoned woman’ more than I care to count. I’m working toward embracing that description. My friend Kathy told me it meant I am ‘spicy’—she assured me that was a good thing. (I’m also working on trusting comments made by friends!)

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Here’s what I do trust: Ps 92:12-15 which says, “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

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What this scripture says to me is that age does not limit service to God. The scriptural principle found in Psalm 92 is that we are to celebrate the process of growing older, to increase in usefulness to His Kingdom and grow stronger because of deep spiritual roots. It’s interesting to note that age makes other things decay, but age makes a palm tree flourish and the best fruit comes from an older tree.

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The temptation for a seasoned woman is to say I’m done. I’ve gotta tell you, I can’t do that. I think that’s why I have such a hard time with the label. Last week a 90-year-old woman was in a workshop I led at a conference for women. She stood and testified of God’s grace still at work in her life and there was no doubt we were all blessed by her declaration.  I may be seasonsed, but hearing this woman share let me know there’s much more spice to add to the mix.

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Gratefully enjoying the spice life has brought…so far.

©Brenda Pace, 2010
I have  met women who struggle with the transition of growing older–in fact, I am one of them! On the occasion of turning __ ?I faced unfulfilled dreams and found myself questioning the future. The process of getting from there to here*  came through deep prayer and reflection. Here are some things that have been helpful in the process:
  • The study of scripture on the topic of growing old.  Reflecting on the lives of biblical women who were older, such as Sarah, Naomi, Elizabeth, and Anna have been helpful.  These women continued to serve God with enthusiasm and purpose as they advanced in years.
  • Adjustment of my attitude. Life is too short to hold on to negative emotions. It is essential to forgive freely.
  • Establishing and revisiting goals–I think in terms of the future. I ask myself what do I want to be or do in 5, 10, 20 years? I remind myself of goals I have  set and  things I would possibly regret if I did not pursue. One of those goals for me was continued education. I completed a seminary degree as a tangible illustration of taking a step forward.
  • Investment in those things in life that are eternal: people and God’s Word. My husband and I have been intentional in enriching our marriage and  have developed new rituals to promote closeness. I strive to develop creative ways to relate to my adult children and my grandchildren. I am committed to deepen relationships with friends and often do this through involvement in women’s Bible study.
  • I remind myself that spiritual gifts do not cease. The words of Billy Graham ring true, “There is no retirement mentioned in the Bible” (Curry, 2003). In a spiritual sense ‘a woman’s work is never done’!
Midlife years can be the most productive and enjoyable years. Scripture promises we can go from ‘strength to strength’ (Psalm 84:7) and ‘glory to glory’ (2 Corinthians 3:18). I desire to help women “reflect the goodness of God through the joyful acceptance (and transformation) of all things” (Stafford,31), and help them be able to say like Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
My response: Praise the Lord! I’m another year older!
*Here=Content and dare I say it? A hint of excitement for the future! I continue to be ‘in process.’
Resources:
Erin Curry, Mission San Diego with Billy Graham marks 413th crusade in half century. Baptist Press, posted on May 8, 2003.
Stafford, Tim, The Old-Age Heresy. Christianity Today (September 16, 1991), 30-31.
©Brenda Pace, 2010