Planning Forward in a Jacuzzi

Late Sunday night, my husband and I joined his sister and her husband in their backyard Jacuzzi. We talked about silly things, but then the conversation took on a more serious tone. We talked about retirement funds and IRAs and paying down mortgages, and the merits and drawbacks of retirement homes vs. assisted living. Those are facts my sister-in-love, Jan, grasps better than I do. My thoughts grew more philosophical.

“What do you want to be doing twenty years from now, when you’re old?” I asked my husband. Bob said, “I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it.” “Well, maybe you should,” I kidded, “unless you’re not planning on being around here ... and in that case, maybe you should help me plan for that, too!”

But then I turned to Jan and said, “I know that I just want to make a difference, even when I’m old,” I said. “I want my life to matter to someone, even if it’s just mentoring a young girl, or writing something that will encourage my kids when I’m gone. Something!”

She nodded. We both agreed that we want meaning and purpose in our elderly years.

I’m a planner. So is Jan. (We joke that we do what we do—working in this tough California economy—so our husbands can continue to do what they do in ministry.) Planning for finances is one thing, or even planning where we might live two decades from now; but planning to make a difference in others’ lives—that gets my juices running.

General Douglas MacArthur said, “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.” When I’m an old soldier of the cross, I don’t plan to fade away. I want to go out fighting. The battle might look different in old age; but I don’t want to shirk, and I certainly don’t want to wither spiritually. I want to show and proclaim God's strength and power to this and the next generation (Psalm 71:18). I want to seek and obey Him so He will give me a long life (Deuteronomy 5:33; 30:20; Proverbs 9:10-11; 1 Peter 3:10-11).

There are some who physically and mentally cannot function, but if we are blessed with physical and mental strength, we still have a responsibility to seek God and serve others daily. God doesn’t normally remove our gifts as we age. He intends that we use them. We may not use them as often or with as much intensity or skill; but we don’t neglect them.

I don’t ever want to retire from kingdom usefulness. For one woman, that might be as simple as attending a youth function so she can hand out hugs. For another, it might mean mentoring a younger woman at the local Jack-in-a-Box ~ the Titus 2 woman, a teacher of good things (Titus 2:2-3). Some older women make pillowcase dresses for little girls in Africa. Others will battle in prayer. We can all "bring forth fruit" in old age (Psalm 92:14), and God will guide us 'til the day we die (Psalm 48:14).

Diane Dew compiled a powerful page for seniors with statistics and scriptures. She ends her study with Psalm 90:12, which is a challenging scripture for anyone thinking forward. We need to "number our days" (realize the brevity of life) so we can apply our hearts to grow in wisdom. I want to be a wise old woman, but I know I need to make the wise choices now that will give me the experience and wise counsel to encourage others in the future.

Are you thinking forward, too? For more encouragement to grow in wisdom, see "Pursue Wisdom with Passon," and "Am I a Fool?"


Marja said...

Thanks Dawn, I am only halfway my life (wild guess), but I certainly think about the future often, especially because we don't have kids. We will try to leave a legacy for our spiritual children, Jan (that's my husband) through his teaching and preaching, and I hope to do the same through my writings.
Great post Dawn... and yeah... we have talks like that in the jacuzzi too :)

Dawn Wilson said...

I've read your posts, Marja. You ARE leaving a legacy!