Monday, May 21, 2018

The Good Part—Preparing for Old Age and Death


“There are two things that elderly Christians, who have many long years believed and lived by faith in Christ, long for when they are nearing eternity.    The first is, that all their spiritual backslidings will be healed and that they may be spiritually revived and recovered from all the spiritual declensions and decays to which they were liable in their daily walk with God.   The other is that they may flourish in holiness and fruitfulness to the praise of God,  the honor of the gospel, and the increase of their peace and joy.  They value these things more than all the world.” 1 –John Owen

My boomer generation has a serious problem with denial when it comes to aging and death.    It’s driven, in part, by our culture’s worship of youth and beauty—60 is the new 40 and all that nonsense.  I think advancements in modern medicine that prolong the inevitable have also contributed.    Additionally, death has become so sanitized in western society that many people may never witness the passing of someone in their lifetime. More than ever before, we have been anesthetized to the reality that life is but a vapor and what we do in our short stay here will have eternal consequences. 
But preparing for old age and death is something that hopefully, Christians begin doing when God saves us.    Our battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil will rage against us until our last breath, and so we must continually fight against it whether we are 20 or 80.     So then, how can the Christian live in such a way that we will be as prepared as possible when we’re visited by affliction, the infirmities of old age,  and ultimately our own death?   
 Written at the end of his life, Owen’s The Glory of Christ points us to the absolute necessity of daily meditating on the person of Christ in all His glory.     
Some might think of meditation as something only mystics practice, but true Christian meditation doesn’t focus on “silence”, nor does it attempt to receive new revelation from heaven.   The purpose of Christian meditation is to turn our thoughts as often as we can towards Him who loved and redeemed us.   And what we know of Him can only be found through His Word.    We don’t need to find a special place in order to meditate on the ever present person of Christ.  Our thoughts can turn to Him wherever we are.   And in so doing we will find comfort in our afflictions, hope in our sufferings, and joy in our everyday life.   By this we are also preparing ourselves for that day when death, the last enemy, is swallowed up in victory as we pass from this life into His glorious presence.  
And yet how easily our contemporary world distracts our thoughts with so much unnecessary clutter.   Social media and television has increased our tendency to be  distracted to a level the saints in times past could not have imagined.   Regardless, there is still  nothing new under the sun and the things we fill our minds with each day will guide our course as surely as the helm guides the ship.  Our ruminations will impact our emotions, behavior, and can even effect our health.   “A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.”  
While it goes without saying that we need to put the brakes on entertaining evil thoughts, we can also veer off course in more subtle ways by focusing more on the good gifts than the Giver himself.
“Others are of a more noble mind and spend their time meditating on the works of creation and providence.  This is a work worthy of our nature.  But in all these there is no glory to be compared to with the Glory of Christ’s person.    
 Let us diligently study the Bible and the revelations of the glory of Christ revealed there.  This is what Christ himself tells us to do and the prophets in the Old Testament show us how to do”. 2 
If we are to prepare ourselves for the ravages of old age and dying, we need to be continually hitting the reset button to focus our attentions on that “good part”.
“but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part,
which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:42
 
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First posted at Out of the Ordinary 
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1.     The Glory of Christ, John Owen,  Puritan Paperbacks,  Abridged,  Banner of Truth Trust; 1994; pg 141
2.    Ibid. pg.31



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