"Listen to Me…you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you."
Isaiah 46: 3, 4
"We fool ourselves. We pray for a long life, and fear old age."
Is there someone in my life who is growing older upon whom I can bestow my care and compassion?
What are some things I can do to make their life easier and more enjoyable?
"Old age isn't so bad when you consider the alternative."
"…show respect for the elderly."
Leviticus 19: 32
After my father died very suddenly nearly 25 years ago, the Christmas holiday became one of those constant reminders that we had lost an integral part of our family - the cornerstone of our home.
In an attempt to make the holidays a time of joy again we decided to reach out to four elderly widows who had been part of our spiritual family for years and who now lived alone.
One of these ladies was named Edna. She had lost both her husband and son and did not have any relatives who stepped forward to provide her with love or assistance as she got "up in years." My husband and I took Edna under our wing and our lives were better for it. Edna didn't have anything valuable in what one would call "worldly possessions," however, she had a Christ-like spirit and heart of love that no amount of money could purchase! Hers was a life lived entirely with Jesus at the center.
One day when we were visiting Edna, I asked her if she ever became concerned about being alone as she grew older. Without hesitation, Edna began to quote our lead text for today: "Even to your old age I am He; and even to your hoar hairs will I carry you" (Isaiah 46: 4, K.J.V.) To be honest, I'd never heard the word "hoar" before and I asked Edna "What does that mean?" She laughed and said, "Dorothy, you have grown up where it is so warm you probably haven't seen much ‘hoar frost.' It's white!" Then she really got to laughing and began to point at her beautiful head of white hair. "It's the color of my hair," she announced!
To this day, years after our conversation and now nearly ten years after Edna passed away at over 90 years of age, I cannot hear the word "hoar" or read this beautiful text in Isaiah without being reminded of a dear Christian lady who trusted in her God all her life - in a God who never deserted her and saw that she was taken care of even after she died.
In this text in Isaiah 46:4, there is one phrase that is repeated twice. The New International Version of the Scripture translates this phrase: "I am He who will sustain you." In the King James Version of the Bible this phrase reads: "I am He who will carry you." The Hebrew translation of the word carry, in this particular passage means, "You will not be a burden." How often, our greatest concern as time passes is that we will be a "burden" on someone else who may have to assist us or take care of us. But God, in His great love assures us: "You will never be burdensome to Me." What a wonderful promise by our Heavenly Father.
But, I would like to add, there are ways you and I can also reassure our loved ones and friends as they get older that they are not a burden but a joy to have in our lives. As the Bible tells us, we need to respect the elderly. We need to show compassion and love for those who may feel they now are a burden.
Recently, I read a short note penned by Carolyn J. Ramus in Women and the Power Within. She wrote about the small things that made a difference in the life of her 85 year-old mother. I'd like to share this with you:
"My mother was 85 years old and my father was in a nursing home. I tried to call Mother often and sent her things from time to time. I mailed her a little calendar that had some pages labeled, "Thank You Notes to God," with blank lines numbered one through thirty. I didn't think she'd pay any attention to those pages, but at one point, she ripped them out and mailed them to me. Here is the list she wrote - the small things that made a difference in her life:
A telephone call from Mildred
A visit from Anita
A magazine from Kay
A visit with a friendly person in the mall
Lunch at Kay's
A call from Mark
A call from Evelyn
A call from Vera
A visit from our cousins in Detroit
A day of rest
A telephone call from Anita
A card from Carolyn
Meals on Wheels
A telephone call from Kay
I called a friend of a friend
I'm able to get around
I had a telephone visit with Mark
I'm thankful my sister can drive
Carolyn's call was what I needed
Each of the things my mother was thankful for cost little if any money and took practically no time. Each was a simple act - people to people, face to face, eye to eye, voice to ear, heart to heart acts of love."
These are the tokens of compassion and concern we can bestow on those around us who are growing older. Love-in-action that lets them know they are important and valued! Acts like a visit, a phone call, a card, a bunch of flowers, a meal - gifts of our time and love that cost so little but put so much into the memory bank called kindness.
For those who may feel they now are a burden, our love and the sustaining strength of God can be a daily remembrance that, "I will carry you until your old age."
"Lord, our God, we are in the shadow of Your wings. Protect us and bear us up. You will care for us as if we were little children, even to our old age. When You are our strength we are strong, but when we are our own strength we are weak. Our good always lives in Your presence, and we suffer when we turn our faces away from You. We now return to You, O Lord, that we may never turn away again."
St. Augustine of Hippo,
As he contemplated his old age
"When I was young I always asked -
When and how and what and why?
How many stars? Why skylarks sing?
How far away the sky?
When I grew up I did not like
The questions youth asked me:
How can I know the truth of God?
How solve His mystery?
When will the world have justice?
When will the world see peace?
How can a loving God allow
Cruelty to increase?
Now I am old; my hair is white;
I totter on the brink.
No questions come to taunt me now.
I only have to think…
Where will I go, when I go?
What will happen to me?
What is salvation?
What then will I see?
A voice comes through the cloud ahead-
A voice so clear and true
‘Relax, my friend, my dear old friend,
I will take care of you.'
So now I do not ask or wonder
I do not even think
I just relax in His dear arms,
From His sweet peace I drink."
Father Roger Lesser
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.