Here, once again, is something I wrote for my book Prayers of an Omega: Facing the Transitions of Aging. Last Sunday, together with a large number of family members and friends, we celebrated my ninetieth birthday so publishing the following seemed appropriate. I patterned these prayer/poems after the structure used by the psalmist in the Bible. The book was published in 1994 when I was seventy. I still agree with what I wrote then.
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he,
I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you:
I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isa. 46:4)
Lord God Most High, Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer. I trust you. I have trusted you these many decades since I walked down the aisle of that little country church. I praise you for more than sixty years of faithfulness.
Don’t let me doubt your love, especially as I age. In my silences I hear the lions of the later years growling at my door. They grow bolder, demanding entry.
Hear my prayer, O Lord. For even as I face the new year, I weary of the lions of discouragement and loneliness daring me to quit trusting you.
The way ahead looks uncertain, Lord. The sand is running through an hourglass with a barrel-sized opening. Stand by me in this coming year. Don’t let me drift through my final days like a toy boat on a fast-flowing river.
Here I am, Lord, more tired at the end of each day. Pudgy again like a kitten. Graying, wrinkled. That snapshot the kids took of me showed I had jowls--hideous things. And it will get worse. Dewlaps. Underarm-flaps. Flaps everywhere.
Don’t let me get sick. What if I fell down the stairs and broke a leg? Would anyone miss me? I could rot; who would care? This growing old is not for me, yet I can’t bypass it like I can step over a mud puddle.
You’ve been my hope, my salvation , O God, since the youth group sent me on my way with the words, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.”
We began together, Lord. You said I was your child. I trusted that word. Lord, I return to it again and again.
But when I look around I see older men and women who have subsided into mute, indifferent human beings. I’m not thinking of those sick with Alzheimer’s or something like that, but those with functioning minds and bodies. They come to church to sit. They go home to sit. They church doesn’t really need them other than to fill pews, to give money, and to bring finger food. Do not cast me away when I am old. Give me again the joy of the Lord.
Though you have made me see my troubles, you will restore my joy. You have done so in the past. You will do it again. I quiet my soul. Praise the Lord, amen.