Adding years to our lives, such as reaching 70 or more, prompts many of us to pause and examine our religious beliefs. What does a truly spiritual life consist of now?
Most readers of this Web Site and blog long ago became followers of Jesus Christ and therefore are Christian. Others among us follow a different belief system or none at all in a practical day-to-day sense.
Three sources have prompted me of late to examine anew what may lie ahead and may bring changes in what I believe, or at least may shift my priorities.
First, I reached 90. Second, a book was handed to me by Pastor Sarah Karber, chaplain at Augustana Apartments, the Cassia community in downtown Minneapolis. The book’s title is Pilgrimage into the Last Third of Life. It provides information on seven “Gateways” or stages through which an aging person may pass, beginning with Facing Aging and Dying and ending with Leaving A Legacy. (The book is available by telephoning Upper Room Books, Nashville, Tennessee, (800) 972-0433, at a cost of $15.99 plus shipping.)
The other source was Chaplain Karber herself reacting to questions. Also the memory of a close friend who died several years ago, Ernie Gunderson, is heavy on my mind. Ernie made gold out of tin when he urged friends and relatives to visit his bedside to celebrate the joy of his long, contributing life.
Bonnie Beckel of Minneapolis said that growing older strengthens her belief that she will see her mother again in heaven. Also she expects to see there the favorite pet dog of her childhood, Trixie.
Linda McNary, 73, a resident at Augustana Apartments, said that while she attends a bible church regularly, her beliefs changed as she grew older. For example, as a teenager she adopted her grandmother’s belief that the world was to end soon. However, as she got older and the end did not occur, her views changed.
“Later, as an adult, I became very ill, entered hospice, and nearly died,” she related. “My children said they need me, that I should not leave them, and I got a miracle. The pain went away and I did not die.
“What I believe now is that God is love, that God loves all of us, me included. God is good and is in favor of me doing well. So my faith is deeper and stronger now,”
In benediction, Pastor Sarah explains that in our upper years we need to re-examine the accumulated total of our lives—the relationships, the illnesses, the career, the end of working at a job.
Then we need to look carefully to determine what God is within the change.
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