Jack Benny was a famous and beloved comedian whose radio and TV career lasted well into the 1960s. By the time I was old enough to hear and watch him on radio and TV, he was in his 60s. On every one of his programs, part of the humor came from his stage reputation of not wanting to appear as or feel old. Someone would comment about his getting older and he would always respond with “Now cut that out. I’m only 39”, which would get a lot of laughs.
During my earlier years, and even today, I have noticed that many people in mid-life react in a similar manner. Basically, they don’t want to appear to others or feel themselves that they are getting older. I used to wonder if I would have that fear of aging someday. As the years went by I never felt that way, until one day, when I was talking with a teenager at the church I attended, he mentioned that phrase that was often heard in the 1960s from the younger generation, “you can’t trust anyone over 30”. To which I quickly replied, “well, I’m only 28”. However, other than that incident, I never really thought about or worried about my growing older. The same was true as I turned 40, then 50, and even in my mid-60s, when I applied for social security and retired. I felt no need to worry about or fear my aging. If the old saying “you’re only as old as you feel was true”, then I honestly felt no sense of aging. The same was true, even in my 70s.
I was no longer serving as a pastor, but I was serving as a substitute preacher in my own church and others. I had this list of projects that I didn’t have time to get into when I was a full-time pastor, so I did some praying to discern God’s will for me as to which of the items on that projects list I should embark upon. It didn’t take too long to discern that my primary purpose in retirement was to be a ministry of writing. So with the help and support of my good friend and partner in ministry, Patty Perez, we started an informal ministry known as Ray of Hope Ministries. We discerned that our first project would be the blogs you have ben reading, and to begin writing my spiritual autobiography book, which we always mention at the end of our blogs. It took me about a year and a half to complete this book and have it published as a free e-book on WordPress.
All during my first few years of retirement, in my 70s, never once did I find myself worrying about my aging. However, a few months after I completed my book, I celebrated my 75th birthday. That’s when I did start to face the reality that I was growing older. Mentally, I felt and still feel no different than in earlier years. But I discovered that I was physically” slowing down”. I wasn’t getting much done on my projects list. Actually, I didn’t really have any priorities set. I got into the habit of trying to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that every day, but not spending any consistent time on any one project (except continuing the already established blogs).
I’m just starting to realize that no matter how I feel about my aging, every day I am getting closer and closer to the day when my time in this world will come to an end. Realistically, this means that I am probably never going to finish (or even to start) devoting significant time to all of the items on my projects list.
So now what do I do? Once again, it’s time to do some serious listening to God about what God wants me to be doing next. One of the messages I’m getting is that even though, in retirement, I am almost totally free of commitments to attend meetings or be in one place or another, I still have a responsibility to use my time in accordance with God’s will. Yes, I have slowed down physically, and that will continue. However, despite all the negative realities that come with aging (like arthritis), I have hope. Hope that God still has a purpose for me. Hope that God knows all about how much time and effort will be required of me. And I know my hopes will be fulfilled in the future, because my experience of 75 years has been that when my hopes are in tune with God’s will, God will fulfill those hopes, in God’s time and in God’s way. I believe that is true for all of us.
Grace and peace, Ray
e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.
You can contact us via e-mail at “email@example.com”
Patty Perez and Ray Gough
We also invite you to view our other web-site Ray of Hope Ministries On-Line Bible Study www.rohmbible.wordpress.com. We have also published the book shown below in the form of an e–book. We invite you to read, copy, or down-load it free at this web-site:
A Spiritual Autobiography