"I'm Not What I Used to Be"
I have watched my dad in his aging process. I am facing my own “not what I used to be.” What works during one stage of life does not necessarily work in the next.
My dad and I both have lived life from a standpoint of crises are faced with great effort. I am reminded of Boxer’s answer to all of life’s crises in Animal Farm of “I will work harder.” That is a go-to response in our family.
That might work well when you are young, but as you get older, it doesn’t work quite so well. The body and the mind simply can’t absorb the shock of hitting it harder over and over again. Proverbs 20:29 says, “The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is their gray head” (NKJV). First John 2 contrasts the ability of the young to “overcome” (v. 13) with the advantage that the older believers possess because they “have known Him who is from the beginning” (v. 14, NKJV).
There is supposed to be a transition from strength to knowledge. And not just any knowledge. Both here and in John 17:3, the Bible makes it clear that the good kind of knowledge that is helpful is to know God. When we know His character, when we know who He is, when we know how He responds, we are able to respond with faith.
Faith is able to move mountains. Faith has the spiritual authority to bring true change to difficult situations. When we are young, we “hit it hard.” As we get older, our knowledge of God should take us into a different approach toward life.
When the body can no longer do what it once did, many lose their sense of worth. When the mind is no longer as sharp as it once was, many fall into despair. Knowledge of God is not about being able to recite Scripture verses. It is knowing God. Resting in God. Resting in a place of worth … not resting in our ability to produce.
“Git er done” resonates with my core values. But, at this stage of my life, I no longer have the ability to press through with sheer force of will. I have to depend more on my prayer life and on waiting on God than I do expending a great amount of effort.
Our culture values productivity and knowledge—but not the kind of knowledge that the Bible values. Our culture values information. Biblical knowledge believes in a Father who has a plan. It rests in that plan. It works hard, but does not strive.
A ridiculous amount of effort only works when God is in the middle of the effort (Ps. 127:1). Great intelligence often means we turn to self instead of to the knowledge of God. Those who turn to self, who actually believe in self more than they believe in God, are walking in pride. God resists the proud (James 4:6).
So what is more effective? Being in a place where one is giving a superhuman effort? Or being in a place where God is blessing the effort? What works is knowing God and hearing His voice. Once we have heard from Him, great effort may be required … or He may ask us to sit quietly by and do nothing while He works.
Truly, God’s way is to transition from great effort to great faith.
That has not been an easy transition for me. It means I am having to let go of my ego. I love to see myself as strong … or smart—able to take on all challenges. I base much of my worth on this view of myself.
Aging has a way of humbling that view of self. If we are to live well, it forces us to see a bigger picture. God gets bigger. We get smaller. We stop playing the comparison game with others—and least we do it a little bit less than before.
Moving from faith in strength to true knowledge of God is what should happen. Are you making that transition?