Last Sunday morning I was encouraged by an elderly, white-haired, white-bearded, stooped-shouldered man on the front row of the church I was attending. He was very involved in the worship service, thoroughly engaged, hands raised for at least part of every song. We sang Graves into Gardens (He especially seemed to like that one), a song from a few years ago (don’t remember which one), and the hymn How Great Thou Art. During the preaching he had his Bible open, pen and notebook in hand, and again he was thoroughly engaged, fully participating in every aspect of the worship service. He was in my line of sight and as I watched him, I thought, “I want to be just like that when I’m old!”
WAIT A MINUTE! I AM OLD!
Which reminded me of a conversation I had with God several years ago. God doesn’t always answer me audibly. Most often He speaks to me by way of Scripture, or a message I receive from multiple trusted sources, or a deep sense of knowing in my soul. But occasionally I hear His voice when He’s addressing something about my character. This was definitely one of those times. I was talking to God about the kind of person I wanted to become as I aged – sweet, kind, engaged, someone able to see God at work in the old and the new. “Lord, I really want to be a sweet old person.” And then I distinctly heard the Lord’s voice, “Well, then, you’d better start now!” Ouch.
I realized in that moment that we don’t just wake up one day sweet, kind, and close enough to God to see His hand at work everywhere. The people we become depends on the choices we make in life:
It is a lifelong process, a stripping away of all that does not honor and glorify Him. We are forgiven and reconciled to God, and adopted into His family in a moment of time, but becoming like Jesus in our responses takes a lifetime of study, submission to our kind and loving Lord, self-discipline, and practice so that we can move every day closer to becoming that sweet saint of God that we desire to be.
Elisabeth Elliott said, “The will of God is not something that you add to your life. It is a course you choose. You either line yourself up with the Son of God, or you capitulate to the principle which governs the rest of the world.”
2 Peter 1:5-7 “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (NIV).
Make every effort. We must be actively involved in the process, but, thank God, the results do not rest on our efforts alone! The Holy Spirit leads, guides, convicts, gives strength, honors our motives, and blesses our efforts!
I’m still working on becoming a sweet person “when I’m old!” Sometimes I’m shocked at my failures, but so thankful for the love and grace of God and His continued daily work in my life as I repent, submit, and walk closely with Him. I really do want to be more like Jesus.
Beth Marie Bearden gave her heart to Christ when she was a young teenager and soon after felt God calling her to ministry.