Oh, if only there were a miracle elixir that would take off the years. Or a magical potion to re-grow my head hair. Or P90x without the P the 90 or the X.
I realized today that I'm getting older. My colleague/friend, Dean Ericksen, and I were recounting an event in my life that I was thinking had occurred ten years ago.
"When did that happen?" he asked.
"Ten years ago in 1992," I said.
"Uh, that was 20 years ago," Dean corrected.
"Thanks a lot Dean for helping me with my math," I muttered quietly when his stinkin' aging ears were out of hearing distance. :)
Suddenly, a wave of realization hit me. The big FOUR OH is this year! I suppose I'm cool with that fact… but it is also occuring to me that in 2013 I turn 41… and after that comes 42 and then 43 and onward until I die. Fun, eh? (Not "fun-ny"!) This is just the way it goes. Numbers increase in age. See, I can do math.
So I guess, rationally, I'm not really after becoming younger… because that's actually agically (new word) impossible. So what is it that I really want in relation to my inevitable collision with elderliness (new word)?
Well, here it is. This year I suspect that I'll begin to better embrace an age-tested (as in eons of time) idea: The true test of life is internal vitality… even during external advancement of age.
Some of the most inspiring people are those who have lived many years and yet remain young at heart. There is something miraculously encouraging about an older soul who is flourishing. You can see the spark in their eyes… the excitement of their passions… the resilency of their experiences… and the catalytic impact of their actions.
This is the anti-aging potion of God. Godly maturity: when the heart, soul, strength and mind integrate with God's heart, soul strength and mind.
I'm not suggesting that people who follow after God won't grow wrinkly or weathered or beaten down physically. No, I am suggesting that godly people, at whatever age they happen to find themselves in, draw up strength and vitality and vigorousness from an inexhaustive well. And I am beginning to believe more and more that after a lifetime of developing a pattern of drawing up God's nourishment… a youthful fruitfulness flourishes in the most mature of people.
I said that phrase very deliberately.
Biblically, maturity equals a youthfulness of faith. It does not equal "fully developed"… which is never possible on this earth (even though many of our church mission statements implore us to become "fully developed followers"– thankfully we have eternity to learn that!). Maturity, in reality on this earth, equals a continual pursuit of God in all things. A "long obedience in the same direction" as Eugene Peterson has written. Maturity is a privileged undertaking reserved for any-aged believer… most contagiously and innocently by young children… but perhaps most profoundly and practitionally by those who have lived through many seasons of life. Maturity, biblically, equals a zeal, a passion, a hope, an abundance, a kenitic energy, an unbridled spring of faith… a childlike wonder and enthusiasm held in a quiet, but mighty, resolve which naturally seeds itself to others.
Rootedness producing fruitfulness. That's what I've decided I want to learn to better live out this fortieth year of my life.
"The godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted into the Lord's own house. They flourish in the courts of God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, 'The LORD is just! He is my rock! There is nothing but goodness in him!'" ~ Psalm 92:12-15
*Image taken from here.