30 September 2023

God’s not finished with you yet

Andrew Wileman

A photo shows a very small model representing an older man walking across a vast expanse towards the sunset and the horizon.

Andrew Wileman reflects on how getting older changes our purposes and priorities.

What do you most look forward to as you grow older? What do you least look forward to as you grow older?

Often in our work in the Older People’s Services team we talk about the various stages within ageing. We sometimes talk about the ‘third age’ of adulthood. It is generally defined as the span of time between retirement and the beginning of age-imposed physical, emotional and cognitive limitations, and today would roughly fall between the ages of 65 and 80. We also recognise – increasingly, with the rapid extension of life in the Western world over the past several decades – the ‘fourth age’, which has emerged as a relatively normal ageing reality. Starting at about 80 or 85, it includes the last years of adulthood and a focus on end of life.

There are many ways to talk about getting older. One common way is the football analogy of a game of two halves, with the second half beginning when your priorities and questions about where our lives are heading take on new answers. This second half can be a time of real enrichment, yet it can also have its sorrows and anxieties if our expectations and dreams have not been fulfilled.

When our ageing circumstances look more woeful than wonderful, might God still be at work? What might be your priorities in 10 years’ time? Our youth-obsessed society and focus on delaying ageing presents a distorted view of the fastest growing age group in our society. The reservoir of gifts and wisdom from people living longer has not always been fully valued and shared between generations.

Philippians 1:6 says: ‘Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’ As I get older, and perhaps this is true for you, I am still far from being who I believe God wants me to be. Too often I make choices based on what I want; I value things that have no eternal significance; my attitudes reveal ugly truths about me. There are times when we perhaps don’t think much about our shortcomings, especially when we can focus on the shortcomings of others.

The Bible declares God makes all things beautiful in their time (see Ecclesiastes 3:11) and that he is working all things for the good for those who love him (see Romans 8:28). But when our older lives get messy and hard, it’s easy to doubt these promises for ourselves.

The Catholic theologian and philosopher St Augustine said: ‘God has work to do with us that will not be done without us.’

God’s not finished with us yet – hallelujah! We are still being moulded and shaped and conformed to Jesus’ likeness (see Romans 8:29). This means that God has a plan for every single child of faith, and his plans don’t change because of our age or circumstances. Our glorious God will not stop mid-design or call it quits just because we are advancing in years. He will finish the good work he’s started.

Whether you are in the third or fourth age of life, you still have much to look forward to.

Written by

Andrew Wileman

Andrew Wileman

Assistant Director of Older People’s Services, THQ

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