Gettin’ Kinda Old – And God’s Grace

Reflections on a spiritual journey by a senior citizen:

If you are an old guy like me you might recall that back in 1966 the Rolling Stones had a song called “Mother’s Little Helper”. The refrain of it was this: “What a drag it is getting old”. As you get older you get all sorts of aches and pains and things you never imagined when you were younger.

Just yesterday the surgeon called to tell me about my wife’s latest operation – it went well. So I went to visit her after that call. But it is part of a year-long cancer struggle she has been involved in. As I keep saying, with two years of Covid lockdown madness and now a year of this (with no end in sight), it has been a bit of a long haul of late.

So old age brings on new challenges and new problems. I say all this because I just turned 100. Well, not quite. I turned 70, but that is pretty close, it seems to me! This is just a short piece offering a few reflections on what it is like to be an ancient of days kinda guy.

One thing that happens is this: All those phrases and sayings you heard a million times when you were young – but went in one ear and out the other – of course take on real meaning as you start to age. Phrases such as:

-‘If you got your health you got everything.’
-‘You’re only as old as you feel.’
-‘Don’t take things for granted (loved ones, your health, etc).’

Now I think about those things all the time. You take the dog for a walk and notice that your knees are not doing as well as they used to. You have a whole lot more visits to the doctor and even to hospitals. You start taking pills for various ailments. The old punishments you had when you were young (‘stay home, no parties for you,’ etc) are now seen as welcome relief! You attend fewer weddings and more funerals as well.

But it is the sense of how you have done as a Christian that really starts to occupy your attention. Often this can involve looking back with some regret, realising how much time you wasted on unessential things, trivial pursuits, and selfish ambitions. As I often say, the title of Malcolm Muggeridge’s 1972-73 autobiography always seems to apply to me: Chronicles of Wasted Time.

Hindsight as they say is always so much more accurate. You look back over your life and you think of all that you could have done differently. You realise you should have been much further ahead on your Christian journey. You recall all the times you were selfish and self-centred, and how often you hurt others, and were far from what you should be as a Christ-follower.

Sure, we need to have a well-rounded perspective on these things and not get overly introspective and morbid. As a quote from Martyn Lloyd-Jones puts it that I shared yesterday: “We must not concentrate overmuch upon our feelings. Do not spend too much time feeling your own pulse taking your own spiritual temperature, do not spend too much time analyzing your feelings. That is the high road to morbidity.”

But regular spiritual checkups are important. We do not want to over-analyse ourselves to death, nor do we want to be cavalier and superficial about the sort of progress (or lack thereof) we are making in the Christian life. Using milestones like birthdays or anniversaries can be one way to conduct such spiritual reviews.

So with this milestone (and my brother just reminded me that with my twin sis we are really 140 right now!), I have been thinking a bit about what has happened thus far and what might lie ahead. One obvious point is the reality that I am getting old and will not be around forever (and for some of you that might be good news!).

So the thought of wanting to leave a legacy for Christ and the Kingdom grows more pressing. With that in mind, I can list a few things that I have done over the years. They include:

-With so much writing going on, post 6118 articles (so far) on my website.
-With so much interaction on the site, post 86,672 comments (so far).
-With so many books collected over 50 years, get many reviewed (659 so far)
-With tens of thousands of quotes collected over 50 years, start putting them out as articles (58 so far).
-With so many interviews, get many on YouTube (101 so far posted)

Other things include speaking, teaching, putting in submissions, and so on. But that just tells you a bit about what I have DONE. More important of course is who I AM and what I am becoming. The good news is, I am better than I once was, but I still have such a long way to go. We never stop learning and growing in the school of Christ, and I am so far from where I should be.

As I often say, if I were God I would have given up on this Bill character long ago. I would have expected much more from him over all these years. I would have expected a 70-year-old who was a Christian for around 51 years to be a lot further along, spiritually speaking.

But all I can fall back on is this: it is a good thing I am not God. It is a good thing he is so overwhelmingly patient, forgiving, forbearing and gracious. It is only because of his great grace and mercy that he has stood by me all these years, despite all my failures, selfishness and sin. Amazing grace indeed.

Oh, and one more thing: in my morning reading I did come upon a verse that seems to apply to me (and others like me). It comes from Leviticus 19:32: “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man.” I am gray alright, and old! Praise God for his faithfulness in this lengthy journey.

And on a personal note, please shoot up a prayer for my wife who cannot be with me today, as she is still in hospital after another surgery dealing with her ongoing cancer battle. Many thanks.

[1054 words]

18 Replies to “Gettin’ Kinda Old – And God’s Grace”

  1. As a ’41 model, I’m ahead of you in some aspects and behind in others: been there, done that, doing that, some better some worse. Bill, well done good and faithful servant; praying for you and yours daily.

  2. You are so resourceful, sane and Christian. I heard you speak in Adelaide once and you explained current affairs so well. It inspired me to be less fearful of what others think and to speak boldly for the cause of the gospel.
    You and your wife are in my prayers. God is able. XXX

  3. I am 82. I was with my father as he died. His last words as I remember them were ‘At least I tried’.
    I guess that’s all we can do, Bill. That and trust in the mercy of God. I think you’ll get there OK.
    God’s blessings on Averill and yourself.

  4. I was given Ps 71 last year for my 77th birthday. Whilst keeping it in mind, I rejoice in the words that the sins of my past are remembered no more by the Lord, He has purposely “remembered them no more”

  5. This is my 74th year, Bill, and I empathise. I am plagued with flashes of memories that make me cringe. How could I have been such an arrogant, ignorant, stupid, sinful, presumptive fool? I swear badly at such memories.

    But from your own reflections, I believe it is all a matter of context: we think and act and really are quite different personalities at different periods of age. Maybe it’s a combination of hormones, immaturity, and plain foolishness. But, as we enter age, decrepitude and plain ED, you get wisdom. It’s why in OT it was old, wise men who sat at the gates, delivering justice.

    Welcome to the age of sage, Bill. And yes, I pray for your dear wife. Mine has been there, twice.

  6. Happy birthday Bill! I, too, turn 70 this year and understand what you are saying about aging. Thank you for your encouraging, insightful words. Please keep them coming. May God bless you and your dear wife with His sweet presence this year!

  7. Dear Bill,
    Thank you for the article on aging. I thoroughly empathise with you as I am 87 coming up. However, looking back to when I was your age of 70 I did realise I was getting old but as life didn’t seem as hard as it is now I wasn’t plagued with the loss of patience as I am now. That really gets to me now . Trying to do ordinary everyday things that I used to take for granted.This is becoming increasingly hard even impossible sometimes and since my mind is as youthful as it ever was trying to keep my patience is my biggest challenge. Part of the reason I have gone downhill the last three years is due to operations I have had to have, one of them being breast cancer so I can sympathise with your wife. It doesn’t always mean a death sentence though as it is almost 4 years for me. It is a wake up call though and an opportunity for reflection on my life and what I did wrong and as we say at Mass what I failed to do. I also wonder more how long I have and in what way I will eventually leave this world as I am under no illusions that my life is coming to an end. As a Catholic I always ask St Joseph to intercede for me so I may have a happy, peaceful death. In the Catholic sense he is the patron of a happy death because he had Jesus and Mary by his side when he died so I too hope to die with them close by me. I also make a point now of thanking the Father for the lovely people who made my life such a happy one with their presence and who have now passed away. There are so many of them now and I have so many lovely memories I cherish. I lost two good friends only this year. Thankfully I still have my husband who is 88. He had a stroke over a year ago, four days after he had the Pfizer jab and now he is left with a short term memory so he can’t remember how old he is. I tell him to think of two fat ladies [ha ha] His gait and eyesight are also affected but due to God’s mercy he is still with me and he could be a whole lot worse. He has changed in some ways and that is hard and another cross I have to bear in my old age. We will have been married 68 years on April 2nd the date St John Paul 2 died.

  8. Bill, today while returning to Perth from Pemberton WA, I heard Johnny Cash singing a gospel about ‘her, she’ in relation to (as best I could discern), the Church, or God. I realised he was singing about the Holy Spirit. Then I recalled comment that early Hebraic was inexact as to the ‘gender’ of the Holy Spirit. It sorta hit me: what great sense it would be if, in the divine, the Spirit is ‘she’! Then the Father and the Spirit (she) create the universe, then much later physically, Jesus – but from the pre-beginning, the Son! So, at creation, Adam and Eve were the wordly representation of the Trinity, as they produced offspring. But then, the Fall despoiled all that.

    Is that is why, even in the Fall, we have stern but loving human fathers, but loving, forgiving and encouraging, nurturing mothers: it is printed in our souls?

    Is this an old man’s foolishness? Such thinking is dangerous, but it would whack both feminism and patriarchism, along with atheism, it seems to me.

  9. Thanks Dan, but that conjuncture is not biblically sustainable, for a number of reasons:
    -God is a spirit, and is neither male nor female.
    -All three members of the Trinity are overwhelmingly referred to with masculine images and names in the Bible, so we should defer to that.
    -God the Son is an eternal being, not a created being.
    -The New Testament constantly refers to the Holy Spirit in masculine terms.
    -While the Hebrew word for “spirit” (ruach) is feminine in places like Ge. 1:2, that has nothing to do with gender identity.
    But see more on this here:

  10. Again it is with a thankful heart that I read your piece just now. It sure touches all those that exceed you by years, as I do. But it is most upbuilding to realise in ever so many things we are not alone. Wonderful comments you have again provoked from many, which ads volumes to your story. Have a happy birthday for what’s is left of it. It was also nice to learn that you have a twin sister, now also being blessed by your writing no doubt. Will be remembering your loved one.
    Wilhelmus Heggers

  11. Thank you, Bill, for your wise words, as usual. I sent this on to someone close to me and was so pleased to find it resonated.

    God bless you both, with prayers for your wife’s healing – and sincere thanks for your wonderful work over all these years.

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