With “old age” coming on, I’ve come to the profound realization that the service I’ve provided in the past, for my family, and for my church, is now becoming much less required of me. I still want to be involved in family and church activities, but it’s becoming clear (or I’m beginning to think): I’m not so much an active player; and, much of life is moving on just fine without me. Younger men are exercising their divine roles and performing many of the tasks and services I used to perform. My children have their own busy lives and family challenges; and, as a senior citizen, I’ve become less involved in the daily dynamic of their individual lives. At church, very well qualified young men are being called to fill many of the church callings I used to hold. And, my new church service opportunities are beginning to take on a more “senior” perspective.
These things are not bad. I suppose they’re just the natural flow of life; the order of life as we age. I know I’m still loved by my family and friends. I know I’m respected at church. And, I know the Gospel of Jesus Christ is still true. But, the type and nature of my active service have changed.
Clearly, life doesn’t stand still. If lived right, it’s dynamic …and, it progresses. And, there is a purpose to it, a divine purpose. As we progress along the covenant path, there are many different service opportunities, events, and experiences that occur, all of which can help to qualify us for Eternal Life (God’s Life) and prepare us for life and service in the hereafter. As President George Albert Smith taught: “we are not here to while away the hours of this life and then pass to a sphere of exaltation, but we are here to qualify ourselves day by day for the positions that our Father expects us to fill hereafter” (see Conference Report, Apr. 1905, 62). These qualifying “earthly experiences” are all part of God’s Great Plan. They are teaching and refining steps in the Great Plan of Salvation …God’s Eternal Plan of Happiness.
For now, we may not want our lives or our relationships to change. We’ve become comfortable in the way they have been. But there is so much more to learn along this path of happiness, even as we age. As we learn and grow, we invariably see there is so much more to life. So, we change and move along the covenant path (we progress). And, as we do, we receive new opportunities, new awareness, and new understandings. How we adjust and deal with those changes will determine our growth. If we make good choices and stay on the covenant path, we will find we are drawing closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We will be changing and becoming more like Him (1 John 3:2 and Moroni 7:48); and becoming what He wants us to become …in this life, and for the eternities. It’s a glorious journey well worth taking!
With those thoughts in mind, I’ve been thinking about the nature of growing older, and the opportunities I have at this stage in my life. Many thoughts have come to mind, so I’ve tried to write them down. The following is an initial, simplified list of “Personal Observations.” In addition, I’ve included a simple personal list of “Introspective Questions” about how and what I can do as I grow older and strive to “Come unto Christ.” The personal observations are good points to consider. But more importantly, reading and pondering the introspective questions have helped me to focus on what is most important now.
- I have less physical energy and more stiff muscles and joints.
- I have a greater sense of awareness.
- I have more time to read the scriptures, ponder, and pray.
- I enjoy my private time and quiet moments to think.
- I have felt more introspective.
- I am more sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
- I am more interested in Temple and Family History work.
- I have a greater interest in frequently attending the Holy Temple.
- I have the opportunity to serve Full-Time Senior Couple Missions for the Church with my wife.
- I have learned to enjoy more the simple things in life.
- I enjoy occasional family visits and love to be together with them.
- I am more aware of the loving goodness of little children. I’m drawn to them because of their goodness and Perfect Love.
- I am kinder and more respectful of all people …and animals.
- I am less inclined to transgress the commandments.
- I have so many wonderful memories.
- What are my responsibilities to myself and to my wife?
- What must I do to maintain my good physical and mental health?
- What is my current and future role in our extended family?
- What can I still do to continue influencing my family towards the good?
- How can I always demonstrate love for my family?
- How can I continue to be involved in a meaningful way?
- What more can I do to draw closer to Jesus Christ?
- How do I “always retain” a remission of my sins (Mosiah 4:12)?
- What can I do to magnify the Holy Priesthood in my life?
- What contributions can I make at church?
- What more can I do to assist in “the Great Gathering of Israel?”
- What more can I do to help prepare for “the Glorious Second Coming of Jesus Christ?”
- What more can I do to strengthen “my confidence in the presence of God” (D&C 121:45), and eventually be able to “stand spotless” before Him at the Last Day (3 Nephi 27:20)?
- What more can I do to be worthy of so many blessings?
This has been a rewarding subject to consider. Just thinking and pondering about this (and writing it down) has helped me get my arms around the irrational fear of growing old and becoming irrelevant. I am more confident this will not happen to me …not in this life nor in the future.
Pondering upon this has also strengthens my faith and testimony of God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Great and Eternal Plan of Salvation. I feel a greater love for Heavenly Father and our Savior. My Faith in Jesus Christ, and my Hope in the Future, have been strengthened. I have greater confidence in the future. And, I pray at some great day, I may be able stand spotless and confident in the presence of God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus the Christ.
(Note: An edited version of this article was published in the Liahona Magazine, January 2021 edition, page 36.)
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