Keeping Our Eyes On The Future God Will Provide

Keeping Our Eyes On The Future God Will Provide

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries


It is my 76th birthday as I write. Although I knew it was coming, like many of us, I am thinking about how quickly it arrived.

The last birthday was my 75th, a milestone half of my siblings never reached. Five of them died earlier than that, as did their spouses, a niece and a nephew. My first wife died a week after she became 50, and my son died at 35. I am very aware of how limited birthdays can be and therefore very appreciative of how many I have already been granted. I wonder how many more are in store for me. Perhaps surprisingly this thought is not a negative. In fact it is an inspiration, that urges toward the question, “What next?”

I am privileged to remain active in my vocation, privileged to enjoy relatively good health, a wife who loves me beyond my deserving, and grown children and grandchildren who I thoroughly enjoy. I will take as many more birthdays as I can get (hoping and anticipating that whatever they bring, they will show me ways to embrace them). 

Now to some there may be echoes of a Pollyanna attitude evident here. But I don’t think there is. You see, I am aware of the possibilities before me, some of which I would not relish, and pray I can avoid. Who would look forward to dementia and Alzheimer’s, to debilitating diseases? No one would. They may well be a part of my future. But they are not a part of my “now” which is all anyone really has.

Why this esoteric sojourn within? It is to allow me to say a word to every older adult, every caretaker for an older adult, everyone who cares about an older adult. Embedded in the Sermon of the Mount, we find this advice: Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

In ministering to and with older adults a big task is to enable them to move from worrying about what might be to thoughts of sufficiency, to awareness that God will strengthen them to live each day as fully as possible if they let the past be gone and the future become the present in which God has always been found.

How to do so? No easy answer. My suspicion is that the best way to begin is to embrace the implications of “do not worry about tomorrow” in one’s own life and be with older adults, in Edwin Friedman’s phrase, as a “non-anxious presence.” We are called to be witnesses and models for a God who is sufficient to every need.

As you read these thoughts, I am off to enjoy the rest of my birthday.