Monday, May 26, 2014

THE AMAZING BENEFIT OF OLD AGE: IT'S NOT WHAT YOU THINK

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Welcome to my new article – one that contains a powerful insight that can change your life! This bombshell can shift you into a new dimension of living that will make all the difference in your personal world. The article is not only for seniors, so don't let the title fool you. If you haven't reached seniorhood yet, read it and decide if you have already discovered this amazing benefit. If you have, kudos to you. If you haven't, this can provide an awareness that will allow you to get a jump-start.





The AMAZING BENEFIT of old age: 
IT'S NOT WHAT YOU THINK 

The other morning I was trying to get out of bed. My joints were stiff and they hurt—I mean really hurt. It doesn’t happen every morning, only once in a while. That day was one of them. Every movement shouted pain! As I continued my precarious undertaking, I pictured myself as a broken pop-up toaster. Whereas I should have been able to pop out of bed, I couldn’t. It was more of a slow, methodical, snail-like, crawl.

 Finally, plopping myself into a chair, I recalled the good old days when I never had problems like this. “Old age is really for the birds!” I grumped.

Bemoaning my lot, I speculated, What else can I look forward to? I began enumerating all the daunting disadvantages that come with old age:

  • Joints, once fresh and new are now old and arthritic
  • Bad discs cause back and neck pain
  • Can’t use a manual can opener anymore because of arthritis in the fingers
  • Can’t lift heavy things because no more muscle
  • Hips and knees become shot
  • Squatting to pick something up off the floor, one can’t get back up
  • Lack of energy
  • Can’t jump rope anymore (I tried)
  • Cataracts develop
  • Walk in a room for a specific reason and once there can’t remember what it was.
  • Wrinkles appear. You don’t look like 18 anymore. And there are days when you look in the mirror with shock and exclaim, “What on earth happened! 
Well, I wasn’t ready to totally accept all that negativity. “There has to be some benefit to old age!”
But what on earth is it?

Admitting that this would require the mind of a genius, I suddenly recalled a definition for inventors that explained how those geniuses differed from the average person. What was that? "Learning how to ask the right question." This would then lead to the correct answer. I figured I had to be a genius because I came up with it:

Is there any benefit to old age? If so, what is it?” But the answer still eluded me.

I scrunched my brow while I hobbled into the kitchen to fix breakfast and consider the matter more deeply. I knew the question I asked was the right one, and since it was now formulated into a concise question, knew it must be answered for the sake of the other 40.3 million seniors over 65 who were pondering this dilemma. 

I did more thinking . . . and more thinking . . .  Then, “Eureka!” I came up with the answer!
To say that I was elated is an understatement, especially when I recognized that its something the younger generation can never experience—at least not yet. Only oldsters like me . . . and it’s more than just getting senior discounts or knowing that in a hostage situation you’re likely to be released first.

Obviously, since the benefit couldn’t be something physical (after all, our bodies just ain’t what they used to be), it had to be something spiritual.

I came up with it!!!

Now, understand, this was not an answer I derived because I was desperate and grasping for something . . . anything. Rather, it came based upon my own reflective experience. Are you ready for this?

Drum roll, please . . . 
The one amazing benefit to old age!
God designed one remarkable benefit, purposely reserving it to be discovered during old age. What is it? To bring seniors into
a new kind of rest. Now, I’m not talking about retirement from our jobs or sitting in the proverbial rocking chair, but a spiritual rest.
 What on earth is that kind of rest? Well, it’s one that involves entering a new dimension of faith that is much different than what we had when younger. It consists of a complete and absolute trust in God with no questioning or doubting at all.

Sound impossible? Well, I’ll show you how God works the process and how it’s achieved.

But first you might be pondering this question: “Is there really such a thing as spiritual rest this side of heaven?
The new spiritual rest
Hebrews 4:10-11 talks about it:
For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world [and the writer of Hebrews adds] Let us do our best to enter that rest.”
Now, I know scriptures that usually talk about our “entering into a rest” normally means when we die and go to heaven. There, of course, Christians know they will literally cease from their life’s labors and rest.

But there is another spiritual rest that can be entered before we’re dead. This acquirement more often occurs during older age. (But those who aren’t seniors yet can get a jump-start on this.)

Still confused? Read on.

To understand this concept of rest, let’s consider the above quoted scripture from Hebrews 4 . . . when God rested.

When God finished his labor of creating the world, Genesis 22 says he “rested.” Of course, it wasn’t like he died and went to heaven like we’ll do, or sat in a spiritual rocking chair. God’s “rest” meant that he ceased from the specific labor of creating the world and man, and because God is eternal and cannot die, he remained active, turning his focus to something else.

What was his new focus?

God’s new focus
His point of concentration, after finishing the creation of the world, was to see that all the promises he would make to man would be fulfilled. He stated this life-long objective in Jeremiah 1:12:(amp)  I am alert and active, watching over my word to perform it.” . . . meaning, he is watching over his Word that contains his promises so he can perform them in your life! He confirmed his intention in the following:

I have created you and cared for you since you were born. I will be your God through all your lifetime—yes, even when your hair is white with age.(Isa 46:3-4) I made you, I will care for you, and I will never leave or forsake you.”(Deut 31:6)

You mean the life of every individual who believes in God? Yes. How on earth is that possible? Well, it presents no problem because God is a spirit. He is omnipresent (everywhere present) and also omniscient (all knowing).

What kind of parallel can be made between God’s rest and his new focus, and our rest and our new focus?

The parallel
If, as we know, God stopped (rested/ceased) after he labored to create the world and moved into another dimension of activity, then, similarly, what kind of former laboring did we indulge in during our younger years but need to stop so we can move on to our new dimension of rest like he did? The answer? The laboring of doubt, anxiety, spiritual and emotional frustration, and pounding on the gate of heaven wondering whether God is going to come through or not. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to no longer experience those kinds of anxieties? Well, we can.

Once we are able to leave that fretting and stewing behind, we can then enter into that new dimension of confident, seventh-day kind of rest God went into. Rest in what? Total faith in God’s promises and his presence in our life by recognizing that he was with us throughout our earlier years whether we were aware of it at the time or not, and is with us now. In this new dimension, our faith advances from a Bachelor to a Graduate level.

You’re probably saying, “That’s a pretty big order.” You’re right.

How to achieve this lies in a common peculiarity of old age—one at which the younger generation often roll their eyes. This new graduate level of faith is a byproduct that emerges when we recall our memories.

How is this achieved?
Everyone knows that seniors have a tendency to reminisce and talk about the “olden days,” much to family members’ impatience. While seniors might have a problem with short-term memory, most have no problem with long-term memory. Why do they persist in this exercise? Because just below the surface of that pastime is a subconscious attempt to examine their life and try to make sense of it—see if they can discern any meaning.

The recall itself is effortless. It’s like pushing a button on a cassette tape. We can do a mental rewind of all the past years and they play out for us. We can remember everything with clarity.

  • Parents and grandparents, what they stood for; even humorous times with them
  • Childhood events
  • High school
  • The prom
  • Our wedding day
  • Difficulties raising our children
  • Laughable moments
  • Also, to our mortification, our most embarrassing moment. (I’m not telling mine!)
They’re all on our mental recorder, easy to recall. But there’s more! And this is what is of great import!

The “something more
At the same time during that rewind there is a subliminal message lying underneath all those memorable recollections. It runs throughout our life’s events as the warp and woof in the tapestry of our existence and is up to us to discern. What is that subliminal content? God’s presence in our life!

During our older years we are more able to detect that content, the reason which I’ll explain in a minute. When we do detect it, we are then able to identify where God came through, even if at the time of an incident we were totally unaware.

For example, there were instances in my earlier life when I chalked up a positive outcome as happenstance, good luck, or my own ability. Only later, during old-age hindsight, was I able to replay my life’s memories with a new perspective, put two and two together, and see that it was God. He had been there all the time! (Read my story, “God’s Love Surprise” in Article Archives or click here http://tinyurl.com/owdu2wt)

This is not to say that there weren’t times when I did recognize God’s intervention. But like so many others, grateful at the time, I may have believed that it was only a rare, isolated incident and doubted it would ever happen again.

Case in point: After I became a Christian I received a miracle healing at a camp meeting when, on the spot after a preacher functioning in the Word of Knowledge called out my symptoms known only to me, I was immediately healed of a very serious condition that would have required drastic surgery. Prior to this remarkable event, I didn’t think any kind of healing was going to happen because it was a pretty tall order. But it did. And because it did, I knew it was God—it had to be because there was no other logical explanation.

Nevertheless, did that mean I had faith that God would come through in like manner in future situations— especially when the situation involved a different scenario? No. There were times later when I hoped God would come through like he did before but wasn’t sure whether he would or not. I was still on a high school level of faith entangled with doubt. Of course, I now recognize that he indeed came through for me in a multitude of situations in those earlier years even though I didn’t recognize it at the time. Remember the song? “He was there all the time, he was there all the time . . .

But how does this spiritual introspection via memory-recall prove God’s hand in one’s life? Could it just be a fictitious imposing of God into our life to give it meaning and make us feel special? Well, some could look at it that way. But there’s something else that happens that gives credibility to the experience.

The Holy Spirit-inspired endowment
During the memory-recall process, something unique takes place—a spiritual endowment is given of 20/20 insight which I chalk up to the Holy Spirit. It’s like the Holy Spirit best waits until one looks back and views all the years of their life spun together in one grand portrayal in order to reveal God’s presence. (Often, the Holy Spirit’s presence does this in the form of prevenient (preceding) grace to those not totally converted to God yet.) Years earlier, we were too busy to stand back and see things for what they really were. Our spiritual vision then was probably 20/40 instead of 20/20. But when memories that stack up like pancakes and are under the influence of the Holy Spirit, they build, accumulate, and act like a great cloud of witnesses that confirm and shout loud and clear to us that, “Yes, God lives up to his promises and he never forsook you in the past." The only conclusion that one can make is that he’s also with you now and will be in the future.

If we hadn’t grasped all this recognition earlier, it is during our older years that God reveals himself. He wants us to see the whole picture of our past through wider and clearer lens and enable us to see things from his perspective.

That “seeing” seems to provide one with the visual acuity of an eagle, giving us nearly double the field of view with a 340-degree visual field instead of the normal 180. Jesus said: “I am come into this world so that they which see not, might see.(Jn 9:39) This new kind of Holy Spirit inspired eyesight is how we are able to detect God. Job 32:8 says: “It’s God’s Spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty One in a person, that makes wise human insight possible.”(Message Bible)
God promised His presence His presence is a promise God has made to all his children and, as Joshua 21:45 says, “not one of the good promises which the Lord has made to the House of Israel failed; all came to pass.”
 Here is God’s personal statement to you:

I have created you and cared for you since you were born. I will be your God through all your lifetime—yes, even when your hair is white with age. I made you and I will care for you.”(Isa. 46:3-4) I will never forsake you.(Deut. 31:8)

Plus, there’s more! 
Our retrospection coupled with God’s Holy Spirit is the entry way, in that it prepares us to step over that hallowed threshold and glide into that 7th day kind of confident, spiritual rest where we totally know with our whole heart and mind that God has been actively performing his promises in our life and that he will from now on until the day we die. And we know it beyond a shadow of a doubt!

Since I pushed the rewind button on the cassette player of my mind and acknowledged the special insight God gave me, I can now say the following: “Even though I may have been unaware in earlier times, I now see that God was with me. He protected me; he worked out situations I faced; healed me on numerous occasions; and directed the steps of my path. He was with me from the day I was born, as Isaiah 46 states, up until now with my white hair. And he has no plans to abandon me at this stage of the game.

The recognition of all that shifted me into that seventh-day kind of rest of complete faith. This is the byproduct that comes from reflecting on memories and allowing the Holy Spirit to witness about God.

Once we move over that threshold and into this, we will sense a settling back into our metaphorical hammock, and relaxing into that new, more confident faith in God——a secure, unimperiled rest where we no longer labor with doubt and anxieties like we may have in years past. It’s a revelatory kind of unwavering trust we are suddenly endowed with in absolutely knowing that God is in complete control and will always be there for us. Breathing a sigh of relief and contentment we exhale, “Ah, thank you Lord. I know you’re watching over me and that you are still performing all the promises you gave in your Word. I am perfectly at rest knowing that.”

Still, this might raise another question. “If I am now ready to move into that 7th day kind of rest in God’s promises, what specifically are they?”

What are God’s promises?
There are hundreds. And the wonderful thing is that they’ve already been tested. David said so in Ps. 119:140: “Your promises have been thoroughly tested.” In fact, they’ve been tested over 4,000 years in the lives of thousands of individuals. Unlike King Belshazzar in Daniel 5, God’s promises have not been found wanting. Dr. Charles Stanley says: “If the Lord says He is going to do something, then you can stake your life on the fact that He will do it.(1) We should be able to say the same thing.

So, now to the promises (there are also benefits) I purposely mention  "benefits" because we need to remember that the law of cause and effect is in play. It is not only a universal law but also a spiritual one. If promises are fulfilled (the cause), a corresponding reaction (the effect) has to take place in us. 

The promises and benefits (Be sure you don’t skim over these) The benefits are underlined.

  • He promises that if you “lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge him, he will direct your paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6)
  • He promises that when you accept Christ, he will bring you into a personal relationship with him that enables his promises to apply to you. (Rev. 3:20)
  • He promises that his promises are there for the asking.
  • He promises that if you confess your sins, he is faithful and just to forgive them and will continue to cleanse you from sins on a daily basis. (I Jn 1:9; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38)
  • He promises his presence will continually be with you and that he’ll never leave or forsake you. (Deut. 31:8)
  • He promises that the Holy Spirit will be your helper and constant companion. (Isa 41:10; Jn 14:16)
  • He promises victory over death and the gift of eternal life for those who believe in him, so that when you die you’ll instantly be with him, have a home in heaven, and see your loves ones again. (I Thess 4:15-17; Jn 10:27-30; 14:1-3; Rev 22:3-5)
  • He promises to be a present help when depressed or in trouble. (Ps 18:2; Ps 46:1)
  • He promises he will daily bear your burdens. There is no reason to wake up each morning hindered by trials and heartaches. You can give them to God and trust him. (Ps 68:19)
  • He promises to be your refuge and comfort—a very present help in times of uncertainty and anxieties no matter what the difficulty is. (Ps 46:1-3)
  • He promises to take away fear and give you peace that passes understanding, even though you may be walking through the valley of the shadow of death. (2 Cor. 1:3-4; Phil. 4:6-7; Jn 14:27)
  • He promises to give you strength when you’re physically, mentally or emotionally weak. (Isa 40:29-31; Phil 4:13; Ps 46:1)
  • He promises to supply all your needs. He knows exactly what you require and is committed to providing it. This includes food, clothing, shelter, his companionship, love, and salvation. (Phil 4:19)
  • He promises to answer your prayers. (I Jn 5:14-15)
  • He promises to heal in times of sickness, just like people experienced in biblical times. (Ps 103:1-3; the Book of Acts)
  • He promises and guarantees you his absolute love. (Rom 8:38-39)
  • He promises to make you strong and fruitful in your old age. With a newfound faith, retirement can be one of the most spiritually productive times of life. (Ps 92:12-15)
  • He promises to help you recognize “spiritual signals” from the Holy Spirit. For example, when the Spirit supernaturally signals us ahead of time that a forthcoming situation will harm us, or when we are given to know ahead of time when someone in our family is in serious trouble and there’s no way we could know that. Or, when we asked God if we should go ahead with something and the Holy Spirit places an answer or a prompting in your heart and we follow his lead to a positive outcome.
  • He promises to also help us by using other people. There may have been times when you wondered where your next meal would come from and then someone suddenly invites you to dinner the last minute, or someone knocks on the door with a bag of groceries.
  • Lastly, he promises the following:
Nothing can separate you from God’s love(Rom. 8:38-39). Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither your fears for today nor your worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate you from God’s love.”(Rom. 8:28-29)
See more promises at:  http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Bible-Verses-About-Promises-of-God/
Looking at the whole list of promises and the benefits derived, we would have to say they all produce a "rest." I mean . . . how much more of a peaceful and beneficial life can one have than that?

Once you become more aware of the promises God has fulfilled in your life, you shouldn’t hesitate to testify to others.” Not just because you’re excited, but because it’s something God requires of us. Psalms 9:11 says, “Tell the world about his unforgettable deeds.


summary
  • Old age aches and pains are inevitable, but there’s one particular benefit that outsoars them all.
  • God designed an amazing benefit purposely to discover in old age so he can bring us into a new kind of spiritual rest that we can enter before we pass on to our eternal rest.
  • Similar to God’s rest when he ceased his labor of creating the universe and then moved on to another dimension of activity to make sure that all the promises he made to man would be kept, we too cease our laboring—that of doubt, anxiety, spiritual and emotional frustration and pounding on the gate of heaven wondering whether God is going to come through or not. We then move on into that new, confident, seventh-day kind of absolute faith and trust, resting in his promises..
  • Achieving this new level emerges during the memory-recall process after the spiritual endowment is given by the Holy Spirit who provides 20/20 insight and shows us what God has already done for us in the past. As we view the years of our life spun together in one grand portrayal and our eyes are open, it prepares us to step over that hallowed threshold and enter us into that 7th day kind of confident, spiritual rest where we totally know with our whole heart and mind that God has been actively performing his promises in our life, as he said in Jer. 1:12, I am alert and active, watching over my word to perform it.” After that, we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he will continue to do so until the day we die.
  • Long-time memory is the key to discovering the amazing benefit of old age. When we do, we can rest in perfect peace unencumbered by doubt and fears.
Conclusion
Resting in God’s promises is just the beginning of what the Lord makes available to believers in Christ. For those who aren’t believers, Jesus gives a standing invitation:

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20)  (If you want to know how to come into this kind of relationship, check out Romans 10:9-10.)

Your challenge:

1.      Recognize that there is an advantage to being old, and appreciate the role that long-term memory plays in aiding recognition of God’s presence in your life.

2.      Do more introspection via your memories and ask God, through the Holy Spirit, to reveal himself.

3.      Practice trusting God and his promises so you can fully enter the new rest.

4.      Build your faith more by persistently reading God’s word. Thank him for each promise you now recognize that he performed in your life.

5.      Pass your insight and experiences on to others about how God came through for you, and be specific (everyone loves a story). We need to share—not with an attitude of boasting but with the objective of showing how wonderful and faithful God is in keeping his promises. More importantly, tell others that what he did for you he can also do for them. Jeremiah 1:12 makes it clear that we have a responsibility to do that.

Above all, remember this:
Nothing can separate you from God’s love(Rom. 8:38-39). Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither your fears for today nor your worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate you from God’s love.” (Rom. 8:28-29)

Until next time, 
Janis







ENDnotes

(1) “You Can Trust God’s Promises.” http://tinyurl.com/o4ufhcs
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