aging with purpose
by Hal Habecker with Philip Rawley
Aging with Purpose - THE BOOK
7 Essentials for Finishing Well
by Dr. Hal Habecker with Philip Rawley
In his wonderful poem, Rabbi Ben Ezra, Robert Browning expressed the delight that awaits us when we approach our aging years in joyful anticipation of what God has for us in this important time of life. It has become something of a theme for this ministry:
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith, “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half”; trust God: see all, nor be afraid.”
The apostle Paul certainly understood this. I have always been greatly challenged and motivated by his assessment of his ministry as he neared the end of his life:
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Timothy 4.6–8
These are the words of a follower of Christ who finished well! I’ve read and taught this remarkable passage a number of times as a pastor for 21 years and a teacher of God’s Word for over 45 years. But as I moved toward and am now well into what our culture calls the retirement years, Paul’s testimony of a life well lived for Christ began to take on a whole new meaning.
The apostle’s words expressed what I wanted to accomplish for the Lord, for my family, and for the church of Jesus Christ in my aging years. I wanted to finish my race well, which has led me on an amazing adventure since 2015 when I founded Finishing Well Ministries.
We often hear it said that the word “retirement” is not in the Bible (except for Numbers 8.23-26, but this was a very special case). It’s true, because we don’t retire from being Christians, and Jesus doesn’t put any age limit on His command to share the Gospel and make disciples (Matthew 28.18–20). There’s nothing wrong with capping years of service in a job or with a company and looking forward to spending more time with family and friends, and doing things we always wanted to do but didn’t have time for.
But retirement as we practice it today is a social and cultural construct, not a biblical one, which means that it comes with all sorts of assumptions that work against the biblical concept of finishing well.
For example, to most people retirement means the end of their productive years. Their careers are over. In many cases, they no longer have input in the field, or fields, where they spent so many years, and they may be made to feel that their
ideas are no longer welcome. They have nothing to offer. They’ve run their race, so to speak, and now it’s time to pass the baton to the next generation and sit back with nothing to do.
And the advertisers will make sure that seniors and retirees buy into the idea that the years ahead of them are for nothing but travel, entertainment, and leisure.
There’s nothing wrong with these pursuits, but as disciples of Jesus Christ we are called to so much more. The Bible presents us with wonderful examples of people who accomplished great things for God in their “golden years.”
Moses was 80 years old when God called him to lead two million Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land—and Moses led them for another 40 years! Caleb was 85 when he said to Joshua in the Promised Land:
Now behold, the LORD has let me live, just as He
spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that
the LORD spoke this word to Moses, when Israel
walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am
eighty-five years old today. I am still as strong today
as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was
then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out
and coming in. Now then, give me this hill country
about which the LORD spoke on that day. Joshua14.10–12
What an amazing testimony! We also read that Joseph died at the age of 110 (Genesis 50.22), still presumably leading the nation of Egypt into which he had been sold as a teenager.
The more I studied what the Bible says about aging and God’s purposes for His people, the more I realized that the only “expiration date” on Jesus’ call to me to be His disciple, teach His Word, love people, and help mentor the next generation is when my work is finished, and He takes me to heaven. Until then, I’m to fulfill God’s will and purposes for me every day and in every stage of life.
Think about this statement from Paul in light of our aging years: “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11.29). This means that God hasn’t changed His mind and pulled my discipleship papers. So even if I wanted to drop out of the race of the Christian life and tell God, “I’ve run my lap and handed off the baton. It’s somebody else’s turn to run,” God’s response would be, “No, you’re still in the race. You may not be as fast as you used to be, but I want you to stay in there.”
Now don’t misunderstand. As a 70-something walking on an ankle rebuilt with a metal scaffold, I know how much things change as we age. You may be experiencing diminished physical strength and mobility, serious health issues, family crises, or financial challenges.
These things are real, but the point is not what you and I can’t do, but what we can do with the minds, bodies, and resources God has given us at this stage of our lives. And my friend, I’m discovering that we can do a lot! I have friends in their 80s and 90s who are defying the odds, as the world might.....
If you are interested in a deeper dive into the Seven Essentials for Finishing Well, work through our seven part self study that includes a video series and workbook. Work through as a self study, then take the content to your own community as a small group bible study.
The SEVEN Essentials Workbook
The seven-part video series follows along with a study workbook. There are TWO OPTIONS FOR THE SEVEN ESSENTIALS WORKBOOK The SEVEN Essentials Workbook is available as a FREE download or you can purchase hard copies from Amazon for $5.99 each