During a recent visit with family in Savannah, Georgia, I played the part of a typical tourist, and enjoyed snapping photos of the sites that make this city a popular tourist attraction. One feature that Savannah is famous for is its elegant old homes. Someone, long ago, was wise enough to promote the preservation of these historic sites. Now visitors from around the world come to admire the architectural beauty of past masters of design, and study the landmarks from our history.
During my touring, I concentrated on the inter-coastal waterways of Isle of Hope. This small island community, along the coastline of Savannah, became a popular summer retreat for city dwellers during the time when there were frequent outbreaks of yellow fever. Some of the original residents lived on Isle of Hope as early as the 1700’s. Several buildings remain, that date back to the antebellum era. It is fairly obvious that to live in an older home, remodeling and restoration that modernizes the structure is necessary for greater comfort. Some of the additions recommended would be indoor plumbing, AC units, kitchen upgrades, closet enlargements, restored flooring, and better insulation for attics and windows. With renovations and diligent care, these magnificent homes face aging with rejuvenated life and preserved beauty.
Another major attraction in Savannah is its lush canopy of trees. One of my favorite places to visit is on Isle of Hope where this ancient live oak tree, known as The Majestic Oak, has lived for over three centuries. I can only imagine all the work required to watch over this grandfather of trees, protecting it from lightning strikes, vandals, disease and wind damage. Yet, at the same time I realize it has lived for over 300 years because of the vitality within the tree itself. It has weathered many storms and survived, even thrived, despite the wear and tear of aging.
Psalm 92:12-15 (AMP)12 The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like the palm tree [be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful]; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible].13 Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God.14 [Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment].15 [They are living memorials] to show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
So what does it mean for humans to age well, or graciously? I’ve heard several interpretations. Some say it is aging while accepting limitations, slowing down without complaining, being resigned to aging. Others interpret graceful aging as doing what it takes to not look your age, exercising, eating right, dressing well, including hiding gray hair, covering wrinkles, even plastic surgery. Then there is the camp that believes it means staying young at heart, fun-loving, “with it”, adventuresome, taking risks.
According to the verses above from Psalms 92, the righteous will age gracefully with these traits evident:
- long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful
- flourish in the courts of God
- able to bring forth fruit
- majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible
- full of sap/spiritual vitality
- rich in trust, love and contentment
- a living memorial showing that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises
There is something important to note in this verse. These benefits are offered to the uncompromisingly righteous. As we study both the Old and New Testaments, we learn that our righteousness is through the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. It is the righteousness of Jesus we receive, as His Spirit guides and renews us to walk in God’s ways, causing us to be righteous. Our hearts are changed, and we seek to honor God. I believe in order to age gracefully, we have to approach getting older with a prepared heart. Way before we see our first gray hair or even begin to consider aging, we need to begin preparing for our later years. This preparation of the heart is really just the process of maturing in our Christian walk, or living to honor God. Like those elegant old homes, we need to undergo restoration, renovation and redemption from what would cause us to experience destructive aging.
As we place our hope in Him, we can age graciously, being renewed through His Holy Spirit. We can live in peace, trusting Him, avoiding damaging stress, and allowing Him to restore our hearts to love, forgive and endure with patience. Just as termites cause ruin and destruction when left to eat away at a house, attitudes like bitterness, anger, resentment eat away at our soul, undermining the vitality necessary to age graciously. But thanks be to God for His Son, and His Holy Spirit. The work Jesus did at the cross, gave us opportunity to receive His Life, His vitality, for all who would choose to accept Jesus as their Savior. The Holy Spirit is able to point out, and rid us of the destructive thoughts and life choices that quench His Life in us, and ultimately cripple our ability to age graciously. Whatever sin or disabling thoughts and actions that I allow the Holy Spirit to prune out of my life, allows His Life to enlarge within me. With a heart prepared, filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we have access to His supernatural resources…His strength, His wisdom, His healthcare, His provision, His protection…..and much more.
2 Corinthians 4:16 (NLT)16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.
Psalm 103: 1-5 (AMP)1 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name!2 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits—3 Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] all your diseases,4 Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy;5 Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]!
It is my pray for myself, my loved ones and all who read this post, to prepare our hearts, expecting and anticipating His grace as we age. May we praise Him now, all the days of our lives, and all the way to our final days on earth. May our aging, in His grace, by the power of His Spirit, give Him glory and honor.
connecting, with love