Last week I was reading articles on the Internet and up popped a notice about an upcoming day of celebration: Senior Citizen’s Day. I was like, “Really? Such a day exists?”
Naturally I started thinking about seniors in my life that inspire me.
The first person to pop to my mind was a lady named Evelyn Anderson Kozak – a lady I used to attend church with.
Evelyn is 80+.
She’s always smiling.
She’s always encouraging.
She’s always serving.
She always has interesting stories to tell.
And she is passionate about the Lord.
Ironically – but not ironic at all – that very same morning my devotions led me to Ecclesiastes 12:3-5:
“In old age, your body no longer serves you so well.
Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen.
The shades are pulled down on the world.
You can’t come and go at will. Things grind to a halt.
The hum of the household fades away.
You are wakened now by bird-song.
Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past.
Even a stroll down the road has its terrors.
Your hair turns apple-blossom white,
Adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body.
Yes, you’re well on your way to eternal rest,
While your friends make plans for your funeral.”
You would think such a passage of scripture would be discouraging because it speaks of our human frailty, but instead I found it inspiring, and I wrote a prayer for myself to read right at the end of the stanza:
Lord, help me reach this stage of life with no regrets, no bitterness, no envy, no wishes of “if only.” Guide my life so even my old age is inspiring and my faith is thriving.
Then I posed myself a question: “How do I get from my 30’s to my 80’s without losing my passion for Christ?”
You can imagine my excitement when later that day my discovery of Senior’s Citizen Day led to my question of “Such a day exists?” which led to me thinking about Evelyn Anderson Kozak which led to this epiphany: “I should ask Evelyn!”
See what God did there?
So I reached out to Evelyn.
I asked her one very simple question: “How does a person keep strong faith for so many years? How did you keep your passion?”
She graciously replied with these five pieces of amazing insight and wisdom. I share them with you today because, who wouldn’t want to know such wisdom?
Evelyn, take it away.
1. Read The Word.
I like to underline (in colors) scripture verses that catch my attention. Over the years these verses have popped off the page just when I needed the affirmation of God’s directive, corrective, &/or encouraging word – i.e. When complaining or thinking about mistreatment or difficulties, I found Philippians 4:8 would remind me of the things I should be thinking about: whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable… think about such things.
Did I always like or heed the truths I read? “No.” At times I would have a royal argument. I came to realize that my mind would often become a battleground. I wanted to do things my way. Eventually the light dawned and I knew God’s Word was right.
2. Apply The Word of God to your everyday life.
Experiencing fear? Read Psalm 34:4: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”
Struggling with anger? Romans 12:19: “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
Dealing with loneliness? Matthew 28:20: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
In applying these scriptures I confess to God that I’m struggling. As I confess my feelings and frustrations, God will help them take root in my mind. Once I have scripture tucked into my mind it is amazing how they become transferred from the head to the heart and the Spirit of God will cause them to surface, bringing His peace and quietness into the midst of life`s storm.
3. Practice faithful church attendance.
The opportunity to get together with others to offer praise and worship to God along with the privilege of hearing godly men and women share the truths of God`s Word has been a gift of inestimable value. Listening to these servants of God present The Word is both refreshing and energizing. We listen, we hear and we apply the truth asking God how we might share the truths of The Word with our friends, co-workers, families and whoever God allows into our sphere of influence.
4. Practice the presence of Jesus.
In going about the duties at hand, I often talk to our Lord. I have learned to let the peace of God rule in my heart (Colossians 3:15) even if I couldn`t change the circumstances. I have learned to give thanks for the interruptions of life, not so much for the difficulty, but rather in the fact that God was in control and His strength was available for me in the very difficulty I was in.
The hymn writer, Joseph R. Scriven, penned these words …
Òh what peace, we often forfeit,
Oh what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry,
Everything to God in prayer.
5. Establish practices that will enrich, enhance and excite you in an active faith walk.
Over the years my desire has been that Jesus would be seen in and through my life. Regrets have been due to my own failures, but God`s grace has been sufficient to forgive, cleanse and renew that desire in my life. It has been said that spiritual growth occurs as one practices our position in Christ, as it is by grace through faith that we become sons and daughters of God, our Heavenly Father. So it becomes our privilege to submit our lives as living sacrifices to Him.
A prayer of mine down through the years has been….
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me
All His wonderful passion and purity
O Thou Savior Divine, all my nature refine
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.