Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
all the remnant of the house of Israel,
who have been borne by me from before your birth,
carried from the womb;
even to your old age I am he,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save.
— Isaiah 46:3-4
I find it difficult at the moment to think of anything more precious than the mental image of God himself carrying me into my old age.
Why am I thinking about this a lot these days? I don’t know, except that I’m getting older. I’m still not old, mind you! But I’m well on my way. And as you get older, the changes in you and in the world seem less exciting and more anxious. When you’re young, a rapidly changing world can seem fresh, vibrant, bursting with possibilities and opportunities. The changes in yourself – your strength, your reason, your knowledge — seem to mirror the world around you, the culmination of which gives the impression of being in control, even impervious.
As you age, it seems like everything is passing you by. The world isn’t made for you any longer. Which is why you can become more susceptible to anger as you age. You feel left out, forgotten. Everything keeps changing at a rapid pace, but you are slowing down.
Isn’t it a wonder that the Lord keeps pace with you? You may be long passed up by everything and everyone around you, but he won’t leave you behind.
The truth is, as Isaiah 46:3 tells us, he’s been carrying us all along, even when we felt more strong, more sure of ourselves. Sorry, “Footprints” – it’s not just in our suffering that we are sustained by God, but for all our life. We just sense our need to be carried more keenly in our frailty.
And this is one of the blessings of age, I think – getting more in touch with the one who’s hand has never left our own. But you don’t have to be getting older to recognize this. You just have to rely less on yourself and more and more on him. You just have to stop leaning on your own understanding. We can call this becoming an “old soul Christian.”
An old soul Christian is one who repents of idolizing innovation. An old soul Christian stops looking for the “silver bullet” for discipleship, church growth, personal spirituality. An old soul Christian drinks deeply from God’s word, because while the grass is withering and the flowers are fading, God’s word never changes. An old soul Christian spends more time in prayer than opining on social media, because he has the eager ear of the One whose estimation matters most.
An old soul Christian may die young, but it’s okay, because he gave himself up for dead a long time ago (Gal. 2:20). He finds his contentment resting, young or old, in the bosom of the One who brought him into being.
Life is not about being in control or asserting your ambitions. It’s about knowing the One who made you. Because, at the end, nobody can go with you into the end but him. He is both “the founder and the perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2a).
Reading Soren Kierkegaard’s Works of Love this past summer, I was greatly moved reading this touching scene:
When the couch of death is prepared for you, when you have gone to bed never to get up again, and they are only waiting for you to turn on your side to die, and stillness grows about you, and then after a while the friends of the family go away and it becomes quieter, because only the closest ones remain while death comes ever closer, and then the closest ones go quietly away, and it becomes quieter because only the very closest of all remain, and then when the last one has bent over you for the last time and turns away to the other side, for you yourself turn now to the side of death, there is still one who remains by your side, the very last one at the death-bed, he who was the first, God, the living God . . .
He has carried you through every bitter moment of your life and he will be the only one to carry you through the bitter end of it, straight into the unending sweetness of his glory.
He’s never left you nor forsaken you, and he never will. Getting “in touch” with that reality puts us deeper and higher into the truth. It lengthens and strengthens our roots into eternity past, when before we were even born, our God and Savior foreknew us, predestined us, even – strange as it may sound – loved us. You were “borne from before your birth.”
Let the world pass away. We cannot stop the wasting away of our exterior. While our flesh is crumbling, we can rejoice in the daily renewal of our souls by grace.
The world’s newness is vastly overrated. Be an old soul Christian.