We come to the final chapter in L.L. Barkat's remarkable first book. This chapter is important for us all, even if more directly important for us post-fifty people and beyond. It speaks of growing older and approaching death in developmental terms, rather than in debilitating terms. Of course the writer to Ecclesiastes is right; there is an age when we do begin to fall apart or lose abilities we had before. The writer may be writing from the beginning of that perspective, or drawing from others who are there, but even in that is value. L.L. notes all of that and more, in this encouraging chapter, calling our attention to finishing well in our lives, just as she finishes well in this book.
How we look at older age is reflected in what we do when people turn fifty, or even forty or thirty, as L.L. notes. Our outlook is important for ourselves as we approach older age. We live in a culture which wants to live in denial of approaching death, and of old age or the good one can do when old. Such are often seen as less valuable or even dispensable in our world. L.L. touches on that.
But God's Story we receive from Scripture is quite different. God will pour out his Spirit on all people so that the old will dream dreams from him. We find Simeon and Anna playing key roles in the revelation of God's Son to the world. We read in the psalms of those remaining green and fruitful in old age, as they proclaim the greatness and goodness of God. L.L. shares of older people she knows in her church fellowship who are active in ways they can be, and who have pronounced God's blessing over her so that she'll complete her journey and calling well.
I think of people I know and I've known, who to the end did what they could. And it was surely much more than meets the eye. We possibly stay younger in body, a study suggests, by keeping active along with an outlook which sees what we can accomplish and that God is evidently not finished with us yet, since we're still here.
I also look at myself and realize just how out of line my thinking can be, as I contemplate what I think could have been, where I am now, and how there seems to me to be no future for me. Deb lovingly challenges that, and I'm thankful for her. I don't want to limit what God wants to do through me or others. He has something special for all of us, regardless of our age or situation in life.
I end with L.L.'s final words of the chapter:
I want to be like this tree [she's referring to these two passages she's just cited], in which the birds of the air make a home. I want to offer shade and fruit. I want to be full of life and grace, for my family and the world. So I ask my elders to murmur the psalmist's vision as a prayer and a blessing for me - may I continue to live the adventure of stone crossings, but may I also take root by the stream . . . to show that the Lord is still upright. Even as I lay me down to sleep.What about us? How do we look at the completion of our lives? Do we see growing older as a downgrade or in a sense an upgrade in continued development in Jesus? How can we avoid the seeming bitterness and cynicism reflected in the writings of Ecclesiastes over life (though that book ends well as we would expect)? Is it our goal to end well, whenever our journey is to end? And do we see that as possible?
See this beautiful review of L.L.'s book.
1. Stepping Stones - conversion
2. Christmas Coal - shame
3. Tossed Treasures - messiness
4. Heron Road - suffering
5. Sword in the Stone - resistance
6. Howe's Cave - baptism
7. Palisade Cliffs - doubt
8. Holding Pfaltzgraff - inclusion
9. Indiana Jones - fear
10. Old Stone Church - love
11. Goldworthy's Wall - sacrifice
12. Clefts of the Rock - responsibility
13. Olive Press - gratitude
14. Forest Star - humility
15. Seedstone - healing
16. Sugar Face - forgiveness
17. Lava Rock - witness
18. Climbing - justice
19. Roxaboxen - heaven
20. Blood from a Stone - completion