What Will I Be Like When I’m 70?
I went to West Mobile Baptist one Sunday morning a couple weeks ago. I love the way they have their sanctuary set up because the two sides face each other so you can see the whole congregation. I like this because you can watch people worship, and for me, watching people worship speaks a lot to my heart and enables me to connect with God in a much deeper way than just singing on my own.
This particular week the choir sang a special called “Through The Fire”, its kind of a southern-gospel-ish choir song but its catchy, I was kind of happy they were singing it cause I like it a lot.
Anyway. The song is talking about how we were never promised that our lives following Christ would be easy but we were promise that we would never have to walk through them alone. It also talks about how it is in going through the fiery times of life that our weaknesses are made strong. It’s a song about suffering and finding comfort in the fact that there is a purpose in trials and sufferings and that we never go through them alone.
Great song right?
Well, this blog isn’t about the song. This blog is about a man a saw listening to the song.
So the choir starts out with…
“So many times I’ve questioned certain circumstances, things I could not understand. Many times in trials, weakness blurs my vision, and then my frustration gets so out of hand.”
And I look over and this old guy catches my attention. This old man with wrinkly skin, dressed in jeans and a button down plaid shirt. He is nodding his head and really getting into the music and my initial thought was ‘haha, I love old people, they are so funny to watch’. But as I keep watching my heart is really touched, like really.
Because as they continue with,
“ Then I am reminded that I’ve never been forsaken and I’ve never had to stand one test alone. ..“
tears start to fall from his eyes. And it really made me stop and think ‘I can stand here and sing about all the trials I’ve been through so far in life, but this man can REALLY stand and sing about all the trials he’s been through’. He must have been around 70 at least, he had a good 50 years on me, and I just started thinking about all the things he must have experienced in his life so far.
So the choir keeps singing:
“When I look at all my victories, the Spirit rises up in me, and it’s through the fire my weakness is made strong.” And this smile comes across his face. This gentle, humble, smile. And you can see all the years of life and all the experience and wisdom show themselves through the wrinkles on his face. And I start thinking about what this man may have gone through, I try to imagine what he’s thinking of right now-what he’s praising God for bringing him through. Maybe he is thinking about being a young boy in the 1940’s and hearing stories about World War Two. Maybe he is thinking about when his father was sent off to war, and how his mom and him had to work hard to keep the family together. Maybe he’s thinking about the 1950’s as he became a man, the baby boom, industrialization and the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. Maybe he’s thinking about the 1960’s, about the good old days of being married and starting a family, of John F Kennedy and Suburbanism and the age of Hope and Change. Maybe he’s thinking about the 1970’s, maybe he’s thinking about serving in the war, maybe he’s thinking about watching his friends killed on the battlefield, maybe he’s thinking about losing a son or a daughter. Maybe he’s thinking about his life in the 1980’s, about watching his parents grow old and dealing with losing them, about struggling with the idea of growing old, of making everyday count.
All these thoughts are going through my mind.
And they keep singing:
“He never promised that the cross would not get heavy, and the hill would not be hard to climb. He never offered our victories without fighting, but he said help would always come in time. “
And this gentle old man raises both arms to the sky and begins mouthing the word ‘yes, yes, yes’ and nodding his head. And I imagine in his mind, he is thinking about when his wife died and how God pulled him through. I imagine him thinking about one of his kids who he hasn’t heard from in years but still prays for daily, I imagine him thinking about that illness he went through a few years back and how God has proven himself faithful over and over again.
And they keep singing:
”Just remember when your standing in the valley of decision, and the adversary says ‘give in’, just hold on, and our lord will show up, and he will take you through the fire again.”
And he lowers his hands, and wipes the tears from his cheeks. And he clasps his hands together and bows his head. And in my mind, I imagine him praising God for over 70 years of faithfulness. I imagine him saying ‘well God, we’ve been through a lot together, its been a long road, but a good one’.
It’s something I’ll never forget. Again, just looking at this old man who has been weathered from so many things over the years, still praising, and not just still praising, but praising even more powerfully because of everything he has gone through- man, it gets me.
Will I be like that when I’m 70? Will I be able to say that I’ve been faithful to God through everything that life has thrown at me? Will I be able to praise him for all the struggles that he has brought me through? It is such a challenge to me to think about. I want to be that old person. I want to be that old lady who has experienced so much throughout life but still can come before the throne of God and with tears flowing down my wrinkled face, be able to lift my hands and smile and say ‘my God is faithful’.
Watching that man worship I realized that we as young adults sometimes speak of things we really don’t know about, or things that we are just beginning to get a taste of. It makes me excited to experience life. To take every experience and to gain wisdom and understanding from it. To stick close to God and learn to love him more with each passing year. To let every circumstance, trial, and time of suffering soften my heart, humble me, push me further in love with Jesus, so that I too, can be old and humble and wise, and brought to tears in gratefulness when I think back over my life.