As Mrs. Sorenson, a lovely, silver-haired lady, exited church one Sunday morning, she warmly grasped the Pastor’s hand and exclaimed: “Oh, Pastor, what a wonderful sermon! I will never forget it!” But then she chuckled, “What am I saying? I’ll forget it as soon as I reach the parking lot!” And he chuckled, too, knowing she was right. Her memory was failing.
But this dear lady had faithfully loved and served the Lord through eight decades, and it showed. She overflowed with the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control radiated from her. After years of sowing to the Spirit, she was in the reaping phase of life—reaping a harvest of righteousness.
As I observed her life then, when I was much younger, and reflect on it now, I want to be just like her. One of my life goals has been to be a sweet old lady. Although it was much easier to express that goal three decades ago than it is now, it is still my goal. Getting old is inevitable but being sweet is optional; and I am still in process.
One of my life goals has been to be a sweet old lady.
Throughout our lives we are practicing what we will be when we get old. By the time we are old we will have it perfected. If we cultivate a growing relationship with Christ and sow to the Spirit, His fruit will be evident in us. But if we remain self-focused, neglect our spiritual growth and sow to the flesh, we will reap a different harvest.
In the last years of her life my mom lived in an assisted living facility. When I visited her, I observed residents who were cranky, crotchety, and unpleasant. They would gripe about nearly everything and then complain that people did not want to be around them. They had practiced selfishness and now had it perfected. How tragic, but how common!
This reminds me of Uncle Fred, my grandmother’s brother. He was a cranky, grumpy old curmudgeon. When I was a kid, I hated to go visit him. My grandmother, on the other hand, was a sweet, delightful woman. She loved the Lord Jesus and had followed and served Him most of her life. As a result, she became sweeter as the years went by. My great-uncle could not have cared less about God and by the time he got old, his demeanor reflected his unpleasant self-focus.
The book of Ecclesiastes provides instruction to avoid ending life like Uncle Fred: “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days comes and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them.’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)
When we are young, we are like wet cement – we can be molded in different ways. Flexible and impressionable, we eagerly try things, but as the years go by, we lose that malleability. We are not as easily recast, and we resist change, but if we consistently followed God throughout life, then as senior citizens we have good habits in place and will be set in the right mold.
Although it is never too late to put these habits into place, what a great season of harvest awaits people who have sowed to the Spirit over a lifetime!
By faithfully nourishing our spirits on the Word of God and taking delight in being with Him in prayer and worship, we will become more and more like Jesus as the years go by. We “will still yield fruit in old age and be full of sap and very green.” (Psalm 92:14) Although it is never too late to put these habits into place, what a great season of harvest awaits people who have sowed to the Spirit over a lifetime! They practiced what they wanted to be in old age and by the time they arrived they had it perfected. Whatever your age, now is the time to put those good habits in place. I know “old age” seems like a long way off, but the years go by fast. And these practices not only prepare for the future, they also pay dividends through all those years between now and then.