Mark Twain once said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Often as we grow older, we think we have lived the best of our lives. But the secret of staying young and full of vitality is to recognize our best is yet to come. Instead of sitting around talking about the “good ‘ol’ days,” we must look for fresh opportunities for God to use us.
Psalm 92:14 says, “They will still bear fruit in old age; they will stay fresh and green.” Isaiah 40:31 tells us when we put our hope in the Lord, He renews our strength; He gives us more energy and makes us vibrant and alive. Psalm 103:5 says, God “He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Remember, God wants to bless you, renew you and satisfy you with long life. Seek His ways and put your faith, hope and trust in Him and let Him renew every part of your life!
When I asked Jerry what advice he has for senior citizens, he said, “Find a purpose in your life and then get busy serving. In some way, give back to the community.” I could not agree more with Jerry.
This is what my friend Ron Paul is doing. Ron is a Vietnam veteran. He was exposed to Agent Orange – a chemical that was spread over the dense jungles of Vietnam in the intent to clear the ground. The chemical was so powerful that within days, the trees lost all their leaves, standing bare naked, clearing the ground so the soldiers could see where the Viet -Conges were hiding. Our veterans were told Agent Orange was safe but it had not been tested properly. Consequently, thousands of soldiers came back home to suffer horrible pain caused by a damaged nerve system. Ron told me some days the pain is so excruciating; he can hardly get up from bed! Twenty- five years ago, I met Ron in Hong Kong. But to this day, I have yet to hear a complaint come out of his mouth. On the contrary, he has always been funny and encouraging, and he is often helping others. Even when he describes his pain, he is careful not to blame the government or criticize the military. He has an attitude of gratitude. To top it off, Ron spends most of his days volunteering in his church, writing notes to missionaries and supporting ministries such as ours. Ron might have received some lemons in his life, but he has turned lemons into lemonade. So can you!
Do not focus on who did you wrong or how hard life has been for you. Instead, like Ron, talk about the great things you have experienced in life. Play with your kids. Be fun and witty to be around. Share your experience and knowledge with someone so they can learn from your mistakes without paying the price you paid to learn. Be a mentor.
This is what my father does. My Dad is eighty-one years old but he is always surrounded by young people. He lived a tough life. My mother died when Dad was in his twenties. We were four brothers. Knowing that he would not be able to care for us without mom, he took us to a Christian orphanage. He was allowed to visit us only a couple of times a year, but he came to visit every chance he could.
As I grew older, I went on to college and left the country to do missions work around the world. My Dad and I lost touch. Dad never harbored bitterness or resentment toward anybody. After sixteen years, I went in search of my Dad. I found him amongst the billion people in India, travelling on a train. What a reunion that was! I picked him up and announced to the packed train, “Attention, people! This is my Dad. I’m meeting him after sixteen years!” The whole compartment erupted in joy, clapping their hands. Dad and I both had tears in our eyes.
What is great about my Dad is he can always be found surrounded by young people. He listens to them, encourages them, and prays for them, and counsels them. He has never been a public figure. But he has been a mentor to hundreds of young people who have impacted millions. No matter how old you are, you can impact others too. Start now.
Do you have an unreconciled relationship with your loved one? Be like my Dad. Do not get discouraged and bitter. Do your best to keep a good attitude. You are not worthless because you made some mistakes or someone left you. Society may call you “old” but in the eyes of God, you’re “gold!” You still have more in your future than all the failure in your past. Never let failures define you. They are simply reminders not to walk that road again.
Isaiah the Prophet reminds us, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19, The Message) I am here to declare over you that your best days are right ahead of you. At age eighty-five, Caleb claimed his mountain. What do you believe God for in your life right now?
Friend, do not live the rest of your life recalling regrets. Talk about your victories. Share how you overcame life’s battles. Tell a struggling generation, that life is not perfect, but they are going to make it. Get busy serving somewhere. Be a person of inspiration. Be someone people can look up to and respect.
Long ago, a mentor told me, “Great it is to dream the dream when you stand in youth by the starry stream... but a greater thing is to fight life through, and say in the end, the dream is true.” Friend, dreams have no expiration date. You may start late, but you can finish strong!
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