Well-Aged With Season

As with last week’s post, I’m going back through a handful of pieces I’ve written in recent years, but never published. I’m amazed sometimes at the things God once taught me but slipped to faint and distant memory. I hope this touches you today. 

“Be careful, parents! One day the little ones whose diapers you’re changing will be changing yours!”

I heard that humorous warning about aging in a sermon once. I don’t recall the rest of the lesson at all. That line was so catchy, I kind of got stuck there. But recently, the gravity and art of aging has intrigued me.

Maybe it’s because my refrigerator is camouflaged in pictures of my nieces and nephews. Kylie, the oldest, isn’t quite three; baby Acelynn hasn’t even had her first birthday. Right alongside images of first steps, yogurt-smeared chins and sparkly, wide eyes, is a photo of my grandmother. She turned 91 this year.

Granddad died a few years ago. Since then, almost spry as ever, she has lived alone a few hours from my parents’ house. The only signs of her age are fading hearing, a tremor when she tries to hold her head perfectly still and she walks a bit slower than she used to.

Or maybe, I’m contemplating these seasons of life because I volunteer doing pet therapy with hospice patients. I heard of a man who recently decided he’d like a visit. It took them months to convince him he would benefit from a few hours with a dog. Stubborn, he kept telling his son and nurses that he wants his own dog, not simply a visitor. He knows what they say is true, that it wouldn’t be fair to the dog. He’s too old and ill to care for it properly. He may not live much longer and then who would take care of his furry best friend? Brave and I will meet Mr. Thurston next week for the first time.

Or maybe it’s because a few weeks ago Brave and I attended a grief camp for children who have lost a loved one in the last two years. However unfair, they were thrust into an unexpected season, one with a stark awareness of death. For many of them, the loss will mean a drastic change in their lifestyle. Who will tuck me in at night?

I might be thinking about birth, aging and dying, youth and the elderly, old and new because a friend just told me that he and his wife are finishing their basement so that his father can move in with them. It’s only been a few short years since they tenderly cared for his mother in her final days.

Whatever the reason, the seasons of life are turning in my head. But it’s much more than a solemn observation of finite lives. It’s more of an interest in how these season change us, not just our appearances and abilities, but change the way we live our lives. Passing years change our lifestyles, our priorities, our waking thoughts and unremembered dreams.

In 1 Corinthians 13:11, Paul says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”

It’s not surprising that Paul includes that sentence in, “The Love Chapter”. The most important way that time changes us, that age matures us, that the end sobers us, is that we fall more in love with the timeless. Time as we know it nears its finale, and our attention is swept up by the eternal. Our love shifts to things of an infinite nature—the promises of our Creator, the surety of seeing His face, the eternal spirits of our loved ones. Our lives necessarily change to accommodate these newly found truths.

Our bodies slow down as God allows age to limit our lifestyle, to force us to take closer, longer looks at what really matters. It is in the slowness, even the stillness, that we know He is God. And in that knowing, we are so much closer to all we’ve ever hoped for–to be fully real, fully known and fully loved.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

Is time on your side?

What really, really ticks you off? I mean, what really gets under your skin?

Is it the guy who cuts you off in traffic? I just realized, with the threat of a snow storm here tomorrow, that I actually get angry at the weather for slowing down the progression of my plans for the week.
Does the repairman who wants a 10 hour window of time for his appointment drive you nuts?
How about waiting in the only open checkout line while five bored-looking employees saunter outside for a smoke break?

Now you will have noticed that nothing throws [a human] into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. [It] anger[s] him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen.

It occurs to me that perhaps the most common and pervasive lie among men is that we honestly believe our time is our own.

The man can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift; he might as well regard the sun and moon as his chattels.

Guilty as charged.

Not only is this a prolific lie, but at Predatory Lies, the goal is to, “uncover the lies that destroy our lives.” Is this lie all that destructive, really?

It doesn’t seem like it. I mean, we might stress less if we actually understood that all of our striving and fretting and hurrying accomplishes nothing.
We might present the Gospel more winsomely if we weren’t thinking about how the person’s question really came at a bad time.
We might not mourn over death as much as we do if we believed that our time is not our own and that what time we do have is a gift from a benevolent Father, from whom all good gifts come. (James 1:17)

The misconception that time is our own leeches the joy, value and posterity from our lives. “Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Ps. 90:12

All quoted wisdom in this article, aside from Scripture, is courtesy of C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters.The Screwtape Letters.  

All that glitters isn’t gold…

I am disgusted with myself. I feel like a million tiny spiders of world-life are spanning across my brain. I am awash in ankle-biter issues and things to do. Things, horrible, temporary, things I want. I have no needs, None. And yet my eyes are starry with the glittery things around me. All worthless pursuits become urgent.

This is going to get ugly. This week Blackberry (Rim technologies) experienced global spasms. Growing pains, I guess. Like the millions of other Blackberry owners, I could care less about the literal cause of their problems. I only cared that my phone suddenly failed to collect my emails. My calendar didn’t alert me to appointments and who knows how many phone calls bounced back into technosphere.

Rewind to last Friday. Patrick and I were enjoying breakfast at IHOP when he made the loaded observation that the iPhone is incredibly amazing. You know “everyone” we know has one and they’re “so much better” than our phones. Never mind that we were so excited to get smartphones less than a year ago. Time for an upgrade, right? The rest of that weekend I sleuthed through eBay and unauthorized websites for cheap deals on unlocked iPhones. In fact, I bought one on eBay before I panicked at my worldliness and lust for newness. I contacted the seller and begged him to cancel the transaction.

I survived a few more days ignoring the iPhone users around me, willing myself to be content with my Blackberry. Enter the global glitch. I was instantly convinced that my phone had failed, it must be a sign that I should buy a new phone – an iPhone! Then, when I realized it was a temporary, broader issue, I tried to believe that Blackberry is second-rate and I should still get a new phone.

I don’t know about you, but I can do mental gymnastics over silly decisions such as this. Really, it’s lust. “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2 Suddenly, conviction washed over me. How much time and energy I had wasted shopping around for a cheap new phone? I didn’t like what I saw in the rearview mirror of my day.

This “age” is littered with techno-crap. Who writes a to-do list anymore? We keep it on our smartphone. I can barely read a map (I hate to admit it) the GPS evolved in my lifetime. I don’t like phone conversations – why not email, text or use some other more removed mode of communication. I Need my coffeemaker, I Need my Kindle, I Need my cellphone, my mp3 player, my microwave – my buttons. Staples even coined the “Easy Button.” Isn’t that what we’ve all come to expect? Push-button happiness.

I wonder, has Satan used “progress” to distract us? We are progressively more absorbed by our things that our relationships are withering. And it’s not only our relationships with each other. It’s our relationship with God.

“The true worth of a man is to be measured by the objects he pursues…” Marcus Aurelius