My wife, Renee, and I spent a portion of this weekend reconnecting with a couple we have known for years, the last 22 years from a distance. The time was a good one and I marveled at the fact that it doesn’t take long for true friends to rekindle the familiar warmth of gemutlichkeit, the comfortable affection that comes with sharing a common faith and a warm community.
What I also noticed was that our friends had grown old well. Both are in the mid-70’s and are in excellent health and show a vitality that was both encouraging and challenging. They certainly had the requisite “repairs” made on various body parts (knees, eyes, etc.), but there was a healthiness there that reminded me that not only are people living longer, they’re living longer well; with a purpose.
So here’s my take-away as I enter into my “golden years”:
- I need to be continually intentional about how I invest my time. Retirement is a word that has almost lost its meaning over the last three decades. Men and women work well into their seventies and even their eighties, and they can be very productive in their efforts. I remind myself from time to time that Ronald Reagan was over 70 when he first became president.
- I need to cultivate community as I grow older. I find in myself the tendency to fall back on the familiar as I age, and am in danger of missing the growth that comes with new relationships.
- I need to challenge myself to continue to grow personally, to reach beyond where I am so I can become more fully the man God intends me to be. We were created, in part, to use our gifts to their fullest measure. I don’t want to stop using them until I’m no longer able.
- I need to give myself permission to do the things that were in the past impractical and not “cost effective”. I would really, really like to see New Zealand… I’ll keep you posted!
- I need to keep growing in my faith. The Apostle Paul sums it up perfectly: “I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus… forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12,13)
So pressing on, I enter into this autumnal phase full of hope and joy that I’ve been provided an opportunity to take all that I am and all that I’ve experienced and use those lessons to live to the fullest. And the challenge for me and all my contemporaries is that we not go “gently into that good night”.