January 6, 2010
"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
Psalm 90:12 (NIV)
As my plane landed, I wondered if she'd be there. The retreat weekend simply wouldn't be the same without her. I would miss her encouraging looks as I spoke and the women of her church would certainly have hearts that ached with her absence. All year I had thought about the words that she had spoken the previous fall, and I needed to ask her more probing questions.
She had a secret that I longed to know. There were many women from the group who I wanted to ask about, but as the event coordinator and I waited at the luggage carousel, I started with my most important question, "Will Ruth Clark be coming?" My heart rejoiced as I heard the reply that was given with a smile, "Ruth has had a lot of health problems this year, but she'll be there!"
Entering the room at the retreat center, my eyes searched for Ruth among the small clusters of chatting women. I found her dear, smiling face quickly and headed to greet her. She opened her arms wide, hugged me and said, "I've been praying for you all year." After asking me to wait for a minute, Ruth opened her purse, took out a well-worn pink book full of small cards and began to leaf through it. Finally, she found the card for which she had been searching, and pulled it out. On it was a black-and-white photocopy of a picture of me with my name written underneath. She explained, "Each day I use this book to remember who to pray for. I put you in my book after the retreat last year, and I've prayed for you every day."
I looked at her face, creased with crows' feet and laugh lines, the product of many wide smiles and tender glances. I took in her white hair, the walker beside her and her comfortable shoes and had a single thought—"Beautiful!"
Ruth is the woman that I want to be when age has settled onto my features and slowed my steps. Her beauty is an internal light that has grown brighter with time and experience rather than being extinguished. Knowing Ruth has changed my life and set me on a journey. When we first met, I immediately knew she had something I wanted.
After listening to this delightful woman talk for a while, I asked her, "What is your secret? How have you continued to grow in the Lord, stay positive and exude joy?" She answered quickly and confidently, "Be today who you want to be tomorrow."
So, how can you and I apply Ruth's advice in our lives while we're still younger women? We can ask to God to reveal our own sins and flaws, repent of them and ask for His mercy to start living differently today. He's given me a very personal and specific list of where to start! I can ask God's help to stop my tendency toward complaining about difficult circumstances and develop the habit of praising Him for molding my character through trials and tests. I can ask Him for the spiritual fruit of self-control so that I resist flying off the handle in a grumpy, hormone-fueled fit for no good reason. I can ask Him to stop my free-flowing river of words and help me listen to others compassionately before I speak. I could go on, but you're getting the picture. Are you starting to make a list of your own?
Although thinking about our own aging and watching loved ones age sometimes generates fear, we can face the future with tremendous hope and faith when we know that we can begin shaping our tomorrows today. I truly believe that becoming the woman today that we want to be tomorrow is the key to becoming the woman of grace, love and wisdom in our 70s and 80s that we so desire to be.
Dear Lord, I long to be a growing, godly older woman until my very last breath. Help me to begin today in developing the character and spiritual disciplines that I'll need to follow You victoriously throughout my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Find more encouragement from other "Ruths" with the P31 Woman magazine
Visit Amy's blog-Ponderings from the Pathway
Imagine yourself in your 80s. Make a list of words that you would like others to use when they describe the 80 year old you.
Which of my personal character traits could become ugly when magnified by age?
Have I limited God by an "I'll work on that later" attitude?
Isaiah 46:4, "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." (NIV)
Psalm 71:18, "So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come." (ESV)
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