From LIVING WITH PURPOSE IN A WORN-OUT BODY: Spiritual Encouragement for Older Adults, © 2008 Missy Buchanan, Upper Room Books, available at http://www.upperroom.org
There’s a slow, steady rhythm to ordinary days. Uneventful kind of days that follow a simple routine of meals, medications, and favorite TV shows. During this time, empty squares march across the calendar. One day feels like the next. In truth, I like days that are uninterrupted by crisis or sudden change. I am thankful for the repetition. But Lord, it’s easy to get lost in the monotony. Save me from the emptiness that comes with too much time to think and too little to do. It is fertile soil for negative thoughts to grow. And if I hold too tightly to rigid routine, remind me that I may miss out on a wonderful surprise. Help me to rediscover the abundant blessings in my life. Today I will turn the pages of an old photo album, and I will give you thanks for my life stories. I will pray for my loved ones, calling each by name. O Lord, show me the extraordinary joy in ordinary days. (page 39)
Some days I am wrought with fear. A private battle with what-ifs and what-thens. O Lord, I admit I am terrified of ambulances and medical tests. Of bad news, broken bones, and drawn-out illness. Here I am at this late date, and I’m afraid I don’t even know the Bible as I should. I feel so vulnerable, Lord. Lift me out of this pit of despair and draw me close. You who stilled the waters, please still my anxious heart. Protect me from my deepest fears. You alone are my refuge and strength. Your grace supplies all that I need to endure, for I have a divine mission to fulfill. (page 82)
Forgiveness: For all these years, I’ve kept it buried like a hot coal. Burning resentment. A business associate betrayed me decades ago. A neighbor said unkind things about my child. A family member left me wounded by the roadside of life. And ever since, I’ve pushed down the hurt until I couldn’t see it anymore. I thought over time the coal would die out into a cold lump of nothingness, but it didn’t. It still glows hot in the deepest crevice of my heart. For years, I longed to hear an apology, but I never got it. Most likely, I never will. But I’ve let the hurt smolder far too long. Forgiveness is not easy, even when you are old. Lord, I cannot do this alone. Let the cool water of your grace flow over me until the burning coal is finally doused. You have forgiven me again and again. How can I not do the same? (page 78)
I confess there are days when pain suffocates my passion for living. There are dark nights when fear chokes out hope. Sometimes I wonder why you have left me on this earth. I have outlived so many family and friends. Why do I linger? What purpose could you have for me now? Look at my hands. Once strong and sure, they are unsteady and frail. My mind, once quick and incisive, now falters under the weight of names and faces. What real purpose do I serve knitting away the hours, surfing the channels, dozing through the afternoon? Then your Spirit stirs my heart and convicts my soul. You are not a wasteful God! The length of my earthly days is a mystery to me, but one thing I know for sure. You have created me with an eternal purpose. How can I be more like Christ today? Whose life can I touch with kindness? Lord, give me an extra measure of grace when I feel that I am too old to be useful. Help me take my limitations in stride as I search for opportunities to serve you. My purpose has not withered away with another birthday. It is rooted in eternity. (pages 11-12)
Psalm 27:1 — The Lord is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?
Romans 12:11-12 — Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Colossians 3:13 — Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
A PRAYER FOR EASTER DAY, 1771, by Samuel Johnson (1709-1784): Almighty and merciful Father, I am now about to commemorate once more in thy presence, the redemption of the world by our Lord and Savior, thy Son Jesus Christ. Grant, O God, that the benefit of his sufferings may be extended to me. Grant me faith, grant me repentance, and illuminate me with thy Holy Spirit. Enable me to form good purposes, and to bring these purposes to good effect. Let me so dispose my time, that I may discharge the duties to which you have called me, and let that degree of health, to which thy mercy has restored me, be employed to thy glory. O God, invigorate my understanding, compose my anxieties, recall my wanderings, and calm my thoughts, that having lived while thou shalt grant me life, to do good and to praise thee, I may, when thy call shall summon me to another state, receive mercy from thee, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.