“I suppose that, the nearer we get to heaven, the more conscious we shall be of our imperfections. The more light we get, the more we discover our own darkness. That which is scarcely accounted sin by some men, will be a grievous defilement to a tender conscience. It is not that we are greater sinners as we grow older, but that we have a finer sensibility of sin, and see that to be sin which we winked at in the days of our ignorance.” ~Charles H. Spurgeon
I just turned 60 and must admit that it helps focus me on the numerical reality that I passed halfway a long time ago. While I’m aware that science and medicine is as good as it’s ever been, the truth is that I have lived more years than I have left. Getting older also clears up the popular misconception that wisdom comes with age, and while experience does lead to greater insight, it does not guarantee wisdom. Yes, age does have a huge effect on how we view things, it peels away a lot of truly useless rubbish we cling to in younger years and yes it does bring a certain peace and understanding in particular situations, if through nothing more than experience. Age certainly does not mean that every time we open our mouths that something wise floats out, I’m still capable of saying as many stupid things now as I ever did. Age in a spiritual sense just seems to allow me to be be more aware and accepting of the power of God being opened up in me, that He is ushering maturity into my simple heart.
The Spurgeon quote above struck me in two main ways, first is the idea that maturing in my faith is shedding more light on my own dark places, even if those places didn’t seem so dark before. Not that I’m becoming a worse sinner, but that I’m able to see more clearly that I should never stop assessing my faith and my life in faith and strive to become stronger for God in everything I do. The second thing that I read in that quote was the affect that we, as more aged and hopefully more mature Christians will have on young (in faith) hearts. This is something that the apostle Paul had to spend lots of time in his letters trying to impress on the early churches. This is a responsibility of each of us has to each other, not to allow our liberty in Christ to be a stumbling block for fellow believers.
It seems that both Paul and Spurgeon are mirroring the same basic idea, that our personal relationship with God the Father and Jesus the Son are not stagnant, rather very fluid. Spiritual maturity has little to do with age, instead it seems to be related to the effort, through the Word and prayer, that we put into understanding and the desire to push our personal relationship with God to a higher level. It seems that every small piece of understanding I get out of scripture opens up more understanding, slowly, one small piece at a time until I get back to the realization that I have been, am and always will be a student of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
So, I’m alright with getting older, although the physical aches and pains, lower energy levels and such can leave a mark. But being able to see God delivering more spiritual maturity in my understanding, and to more clearly see the blessing He has and is delivering to every day, even if it’s a difficult one. I’m enjoying the brightness of the light my Father shines on me now and I’m so much more aware of things I need to work on personally as well as how my life should shine bright for my brothers and sisters in Christ As I look back at the quote above, it’s worth noting that Spurgeon starts with “the nearer we get to Heaven” and this should be a very comforting response to getting older. I hear so many people respond when asked how they are doing with, “woke up, still alive, still this side of the dirt, still breathing” etc. But as much as we find pleasure in this life, each day we get just a bit nearer to Heaven. And that is worth the wait and the struggle here below.
Just before my mother passed from this life, I was blessed to be able to have a conversation of sorts (she could not speak but wrote notes instead) with her and what brought me the most strength and peace was her excitement to be going home, no regrets, no sadness, just joy. I’m pretty happy that as I get older and closer to Heaven that God is shining that light on me and illuminating or fine tuning me so that the life I live reflects Him in all I do.