70th Birthday Reflections

What should we think of as we ponder our “Golden Years”?

I believe five main truths must be in place to make the remainder of our lives truly productive for the Kingdom of God.  A child should be able to comprehend and prayerfully believe the answers to life’s key questions: origin, meaning, conduct, response to evil (internal and external) and destiny.

 

I just celebrated my 70th birthday. My 8 children and 13 grandchildren were there and watched a DVD slide show of my 70 years on earth. I concluded with a short reflection of “the periods or ages” of one’s life in a consideration of Psalm 90:12, 17b, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom…And establish the work of our hands for us, yes establish the work of our hands.”

Here is a brief synopsis of my thoughts:

As one reflects on his life at the 70th year point, I am reminded of what is called the “Third Age” or Golden Years.  In our society this is the age of retirement, leisure, rest and relaxation. Now one can walk aimlessly on the seashore for weeks (months or years) at a time, collecting seashells or chasing a little white ball playing golf. But is this biblical?  Nowhere in the Bible is “recreational retirement” mentioned for a Christian to spend his or her last decades on earth. So, what should we think of as we ponder our “Golden Years”?

First, we should look at the first two ages or expanded periods of our lives. The first age is the “Preparation Time”.  Some people would say this is the student period as we build the foundation where the rest of our lives will be built upon. We learn mainly from our parents, relatives, teachers, coaches, church elders/teachers and peers on what is beneficial.

I believe five main truths must be in place to make the remainder of our lives truly productive for the Kingdom of God. A child should be able to comprehend and prayerfully believe the answers to life’s key questions: origin, meaning, conduct, response to evil (internal and external) and destiny.

This is one of the reasons I am in the Children’s Catechism business, for these essential questions are answered. First question: our origin is answered in “Who made you?” Answer: “God.” We are not random masses of atoms developed over time without meaning. God has made us uniquely (Psalm 139:13-16).

The second question: purpose or why are we here? The Catechism question: “Why did God make us and all things?” Answer: “For His own glory.” Our purpose is to glorify God in who we are, think, say and do (I Cor 10:31).

The third key question concerns conduct or how we should live (ethics and morals). The fourth question of the Children’s Catechism answers this: We glorify God by loving Him and doing what He commands. The moral law of God shows us how to live holy lives.

The fourth question deals with what is wrong with us and the world is succinctly answered by a single word: “sin.” It contaminates us, our relationships our actions and the responses to our actions. As a child we need to know this, we are all sinners in need of a Savior and God has provided this Savior in Christ.

The final big question that should be answered in this “Preparation Period” is one of destiny. What is our future? What lies ahead for every individual? As Christians we know that Christ has gone ahead of us to prepare a place in heaven for all his followers (John 14:1-7).

If these five questions are logically believed and modeled by key people in the “Preparation Age” then the foundation has been laid for the next two periods of our lives.  If not, then we will spend the rest of our lives in trying to find the answers often in destructive places; or gloom and desperation will force us to escape into drugs, depression or other “palliative devices” of numbness.

If we leave the “Preparation Age” with these truths firmly cemented in our hearts we are ready for the “Building Years.” During these years we perfect skills, build a career, a marriage, a family, a ministry —all to the glory of God as he leads us. We literally build on the truths of the five key questions already learned and believed.

And now the final Age: the “Third Age or “Golden Years.” For me, I do not have a formal 8 to 5 job awaiting me every day. God has granted me time to train others, to mentor, to serve without the fear of poverty. My children have grown and left the home. I am available to assist them, advise them as an adult to an adult. Now I can travel doing seminars on teaching children, in order to share the gifts God has given me over the years.

My challenge to you is not to waste this “Golden Age” given to selfish, recreational pursuits; being available to serve in whatever capacity God has given you. Perhaps your health condition will allow you to only pray-then pray. Build a list of those in need of prayer. Such a list is probably provided by your church-get it and pray through it. There are so many activities and area available for you.

Remember the exhortation of Psalm 90: 12, 17b, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom…And establish the work of our hands, yes establish the work of our hands.”

Brad Winsted is the Director of Children’s Ministry International, a non-profit that develops, translates and distributes reformed materials to children. His eight children (six girls and two boys) are now grown and four of them are married. Brad remarried five years ago after his first wife Fawn, died of cancer. He and his wife Margareta have 13 grandchildren and live in Marietta, GA; they attend Midway PCA in Powder Springs, Ga.