Greetings, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to
explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly
Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This
morning we seek to understand the meaning of growing old gracefully.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
Growing Old Gracefully
"And he said unto me, 'My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in
weakness'." Second Corinthians, Chapter 12, Verse 9.
Brothers and sisters, "as you grow older in years and more experienced in the affairs of the kingdom,
are you becoming more tactful in dealing with troublesome mortals and more tolerant in living with
stubborn associates? Tact is the fulcrum of social leverage, and tolerance is the earmark of a great
soul. If you possess these rare and charming gifts, as the days pass you will become more alert and
expert in your worthy efforts to avoid all unnecessary social misunderstandings. Such wise souls are
able to avoid much of the trouble which is certain to be the portion of all who suffer from lack of
emotional adjustment, those who refuse to grow up, and those who refuse to grow old gracefully."
There are several stages in this process of traversing the mortal life. There is birth, infancy,
childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age, old age, and then finally death. Each of these stages
is associated with a particular function, and each of these stages provides gradual transition,
excepting birth and death. These two stages happen rather suddenly, but the other stages move from
one to the other gradually. These stages are the growth cycle ordained by the Father, and they must
be good. It is this goodness that we will examine as we look at the stage of old age.
We know that there is spiritual value in the final stage of existence despite the advertisement and the
attitude of the culture who more or less condemn old people to the dust binges of "has been." They
fail to recognize the wisdom and spiritual values of older people since this is not something that is
important to the culture. And most old people who refuse to grow old gracefully accept these
judgements of unworthiness, attempting to maintain a value system of a younger stage of existence.
But while their value system may be in a younger stage of existence, the reality of themselves is the
stage that they are physically located. They may say "you are only as old as you feel, and age is only
a number," but the life itself tells the tale.
At the root of this emotional maladjustment is the failure to develop a spiritual perspective of life
and to wholeheartedly pursue this spiritual perspective. This is a failure to embrace the values and
meanings of each stage of existence. They have not captured the progressive spirit of life, and only
associate their life with the age that they feel most comfortable with. This can be a very subtle
distinction, that is the person may not be aware that they are failing to progress to the next stage
emotionally and spiritually. So focused are they on the fear of their being in the next stage that they
blind themselves to the values and meanings of the stage of their actual status. Needless to say, this
failure to advance creates distortion in their minds and their relationships.
And of course from their point of view, it is understandable. If you feel that somehow you will be
less of a person by moving to the next stage, then you will do everything in your power to prevent
it. You will refuse to grow up and grow old gracefully. You may not grow up emotionally but you
are going to age. Emotional tricks will not work against the realities of life. But we are concerned
today with the rare phenomenon of growing old gracefully. It is so rare that when we see it, we often
refuse to believe it. It is like the injunction to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect. We refuse
to acknowledge it, declaring that no one can be perfect. But the injunction remains. If the Father did
not mean it, he would never have commanded it. But we are often ingenious in our attempts to avoid
the truth, even going so far as to deny the reality of the truth just because so many of us do the same
thing. But truth is to be embraced and lived to the fullest.
The person who grows older gracefully has obediently passed through all the other preceding stages
with an acceptance that recognizes the function of and the need to embrace previous stages. It only
follows that when the function of a given stage has been met, then it is time to move to the next
stage. The fact that significant time is, relatively speaking, given to pass through these stages is not
to be interpreted as a signal that one should try to remain in the stage because one has grown
comfortable in it or because one fears the next stage ahead. There is nothing to fear except fear itself.
We are not blind to the fact that there is often associated significant disability, pain, suffering,
loneliness, and a sense of not being useful or worthy, of not being of further value when we grow
older. Often the loved ones of the elderly have become so trapped within the quantitative aspect of
living that they have lost complete sight of the qualitative aspects of living. They are totally
enmeshed and immersed in the material aspects of life. They live under the weight of materialistic
cares that it requires the erosion of time in order for them to see the light of spiritual goodness. They
have not developed any comprehensive philosophy to guide them in their understanding of the
purpose of life. When old people are left alone to live under this materialistic sun, it is no wonder
that they dread the final stage of life. But even though the physical aspects of life may have become
intolerable from an emotional and physical standpoint of view, gracefulness can still be experienced.
Old age is a time of unifying meanings and values. It is a time to review the struggles and successes,
the defeats and mistakes. It is a time for recognizing that even as the material life has worn down,
the spiritual life has geared up. And this is what to expect since the purpose of life all along has been
to develop the spiritual nature--the soul. And at some point, it is only fitting that this soul should be
harvested, should be released from the flesh to begin its next stage of progression in the eternal
cycles of the Father's love.
The attitude of someone who is growing old gracefully is one that has yielded to the fact and truth
that his mortal career is in its final stage. Only the final touches need be applied before completion.
It is a mind and soul that is illuminated with faith, love, and mercy. He has developed his
relationship with the Heavenly Father and is satisfied with his life. The one who is growing older
gracefully has already begun his next life, and peace, joy, and contentment are reflections of the
values and meanings that he is now experiencing. His life is dominated by wisdom, prayer,
thanksgiving and worship. He is conscious of his oneness with the Father and declares that "God is
good." The fruits of the spirit shine brightly in his life, and the light radiating from the spirit within
is visible. The one who grows old gracefully has fully availed himself of the mercy features of life.
Love has destroyed all fear of mortal death from his soul. He has completed the circles of mortal
existence and has embarked on the next leg of the journey. This soul of grace, one of survival value,
is filled with the grasp of faith.
During this period of slowly withdrawing from the responsibilities of mortal life, the soul may be
alone, derived of the comfort and love of his loved ones, but he is not lonely nor alone spiritually,
and his mind and soul are busy with a thousand and one thoughts of spiritual realities, as he
increasingly displays the satisfaction of one who has learned to do the Father's will. He has for all
practical purposes mastered this life and only awaits the translating flash or mortal dissolution to
deliver him to the next level of existence. As he awaits the transfer, he demonstrates in his life the
ideals that he has mastered. Wisdom exudes from him, and he is a joy to behold with his love- and
mercy-displaying attitude. He wears a kindly smile and carries a gentle touch.
This concludes today's message on the meaning of growing old gracefully. We hope you find
something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.