“Fulfilling God’s Plan for Our Aging Years”
Episode 44: The Core of Growing Spiritually
Scripture has so much to teach us about growing spiritually in our walk with Jesus. The good news is that God is never finished with us, no matter what age or stage we find ourselves in! Hal and Randy are back to talk about what being a lifelong learner looks like, even if we are in our twilight years.
Randy Hess: 0:08
Hi, everyone. Welcome back to finishing well podcast, our podcast or finishing wellness. objective here is to help people, primarily seniors explore how they can lead their lives well, and how they can finish their lives. Well. We cater to 65 and older but you know what, we're also very happy to have you here. If you're 65 or under, and talking about finishing well, my name is Randy Hess. And I'm here with my good buddy how Harker, who just happened to found for the shingle ministry several years ago. And it's a bright day here, and we're glad to be here. Hey, how are you today?
Hal Habecker: 0:49
I'm great, Randy, it's great to be here with you and addressing issues of an elder hoods segment of our society. One of the things I wrestle with, and people wrestle with how do you want to be labeled? Well, growing old? Well, I don't know, do I want to admit I'm growing old? I'm aging. You know, it's like satchel page said, How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are? You know, so we're all at different levels. But one thing that captures and unites us, we are all in what I would call an elder hood, season of life, where the elders of our society, and I'm not talking about elders in church or whatever, we are a people of wisdom. We are the elders in our culture. And it's a valuable position to be in and we have a lot to offer. And so that's what I think we're addressing. So we're all moving towards an elder hood, season of life. So let's join in and encourage each other. That sounds good.
Randy Hess: 1:53
Sounds really good? Yes, let's do it out. So today, I think you're going to introduce us or talk maybe reintroduce us to something, a topic that we have visited previously. And so I'll let you give that I'll let you present our topic for the
Hal Habecker: 2:15
day. Thanks, Randy. I have a good illustration of what I want to do today. I had a good friend and a Sunday school class that I used to lead years ago decades ago. His name was Bill fosse forester, and he played weak side linebacker for the Green Bay Packers along with the great Oh, who was the middle linebacker, I can't remember his name offhand. But he played under Vince Lombardi. And he used to tell the story when training camp would start every summer, Vince Lombardi would have all the players come to the center of the field, and he'd hold up a football, he'd say, gentlemen, this is a football. And he would go through the basics of what the game of football was. And he always said that the people who execute the basics the best, usually are the most successful on the field. So I think about that today, you know, we have developed in finishing, well, ministry, six essentials for living, they're not the only six essentials, or there may be others, there may be different versions of it. And you've all encountered that. But we've looked at six essentials that I think God has in mind for us as we reach our elder years, or move into this essence of elderhood. They're true for every age. I mean, they're true for little people, they're true for young parents, they're true for college kids are true for anybody. But I want to drill down on the six essentials. And by the way, these are all transcripted. So you can read these as well as listen to them. And we have six of them you are to grow. That's the first fundamental in life. I think it's important. I'd like to work on that today, that topic and we'll drill down on what it means maybe in the next podcast, etc, etc. So does that sound good? Randy, let's go. Sounds good. I
Randy Hess: 4:10
think that would be helpful and useful for the new listener may be useful for some people who skipped through it previously and want to know a little bit more about the five.
Hal Habecker: 4:21
Okay, let me talk about growth in a minute, for a minute. And then I'm a big assist. I'm a pastor. The Bible is our reference point for everything in life. And it gives incredible illustrations. And I want to talk about growth and then let me illustrate it with some scriptures and reflect on it together. You know, to grow means you're changing. You don't stay the same. You're developing, you're maturing you there's a perspective that changes in life. You know more you experience more You know, I like to talk about little people, I like to talk about my grandkids and how they grow and develop from infancy on through every stage of their life they're developing. They see the world differently as they age, I have a five year old grandson, he sees the world one way, and I love the way he sees it. But every year he'll grow. He has an eight year old sister and she sees the world a little bit different because she's older than he is. And then I have other grandkids. But you know, the same thing is true for us as adults, it doesn't matter what stage we're in as adults, we see the world differently with every week, every month, every year that goes by, I see the world differently as a 72 year old now than I did when I was a 62 year old or a 52 or a 42. It just changes. There's a maturity that happens. There's there's an adapt ation process, you know, in my sense, where I where I am physically, my body is changing. I can't do the things that I used to do. So I'm learning to adapt and think through a different season. I'm learning new skills finishing well as seven years old. And I'm not the same person. I was seven years ago when we launched this ministry. So I'm have some new perspectives aways. I think it's important to drill down on those things. I think God wants every one of us to grow. You know, that happened in our conversion experience. And we could use the spiritual conversion process as a way of growing and changing. When I trusted Christ, He changed my life. The apostle Paul says that Corinthians 517, were a new creation, a new creature, we see the world differently. You know, Jesus taught us in his prayer that he taught us in the, the, in the Sermon on the Mount, Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come your will be done on earth, as it is. And when I trusted Christ, or when Nick edemas trust in Christ in John three, that was just a whole new way of looking. So God makes us new creatures, and even spiritually, we're all new. I think of it in Psalm 118, verse 24, this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice, and be glad in it from my perspective, as a Christian, who is now in the world of Jesus, and eternity, with my sins forgiven and eternal life, I see God's purposes in this new day, which I've never lived before. We've never had this conversation before, Randy. So we're always growing and developing. And that newness, whether it's a plant, whether it's a tree, whether it's a flower, the seasons change, and we grow. So does that make sense? Randy, those illustrations about who we are as persons who we are as people of God, and His plan is for us to grow and develop? I think it's true for all of life,
Randy Hess: 7:55
does it really is, we grow, as you said, how our entire life are we, we need to grow, and we will grow in one way or another. But I think we grow through experience and we grow through things that we do and things that we look at and things we observe and things we think about. So yes, but I also think that the Christian mind is thinking about my spirituality, if you will, and have I continued to grow, you know, since my since my conversion ever had, and how have I grown? And how have I understood, how do I understand my relationship with the Lord? It's pretty important to me, and I think a lot of people do spend time. Well, hopefully, I'll say it hopefully, a lot of people do spend time hopefully I do. Trying to continue to grow in that area.
Hal Habecker: 9:03
Let me give you some biblical illustrations that, that picture this for me. The first one would be Jesus himself. You know, he was born as an infant, to the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. He was born into this world out of heaven. He had never lived a moment in a physical body before he was born into this world. And Luke, the physician describes his growth in Luke 252. And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature. I mean, he was growing as a person from an infant person who walked to an adolescent to an adult, where he launched his ministry at the age of 30. He finished he increased in wisdom and stature in favor with God and men. Now, there's two things here, God has us grow in our relationship with Himself. So Jesus grew as a person son, and his mind and his perception of reality. Remember when he was aged 12. He said to his parents, I have to be about my Father's business. He was learning that he was growing that so he was growing in his relationship with his father understanding what his father wanted him to do and be and what he embraced before he ever came. But then it says in favor with God and man. So we grow relational with other people. God has us here to grow in himself, but he always has us here to grow in relationships with others, and impact their lives with what he is doing in our own. So the best verse, or a verse that illustrates this for me is in Matthew four, where Jesus in Matthew four, verse 18, where he says to the disciples, follow me and I will make you fishers of men. So the disciples are called to follow Jesus just like you and I are, if any man wishes to follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me our relationship with Jesus is the most exhilarating and life changing thing about who we are. But it's not just about us, I will make you fishers of men, Jesus said, so we have a ministry with other people, we have a responsibility just as Jesus came to show us his father, and to introduce us to eternal life. He wants His followers, his disciples back then in the first century, and you and me and this day, to have an influence with other people to share what he is doing and has done in our own lives with others, makes all the difference in the world, whether I grasp that and live with that kind of intentional desire every day. I mean, that's my challenge in growing. So we are growing on our relationship with Jesus, as we follow Him every day, and we are growing and understanding who he wants us to continually be for our purpose of influencing and encouraging and building up others. That's what a parent does to his kids. That's what a grandparent does with his adult kids and grandkids as what we do in church. And that's our ministry, as we grow and impact the lives of others that make sense, Randy
Randy Hess: 12:16
does it present?
Hal Habecker: 12:18
Well, let's keep going in this. And then we can reflect on a little bit more. I mean, I think the Scripture example is always to grow into who God wants us to be an experience his work and our lives for the blessing of others. I think you can take that script and input it in every character in the Scriptures. And whether or not they do it well, whether or not they do it poorly, whether they do it haphazardly, or whatever. But God does have a plan, I think of me just take Abraham, we meet him in Genesis 12. And God says to Abraham, that was his name, then before he changed it. He says, I want you to leave your home and follow me to a new land, the land of Canaan, he says, I'm going to give it to you, you're going to get it, you're everywhere your foot goes, you will experience it to God had a plan for Abraham to experience a whole new world for the blessing of his seed for his people, when he didn't even have any children when he came to the promised land. So Romans four says he grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, being fully persuaded that what God had promised he was also able to perform. So Abraham's faith grew in what God had promised to Him. And God promises to do things in our lives, he promises to conform us to the image of Jesus, so that we would grow in him and have an impact with other people. And Abraham illustrates that, and God had a plan for him. You could go to Jeremiah 29, where the prophet preaches to the people in captivity, he says, I know God has a plan for you, a plan for a welfare a plan for Hope he's going to bring you back at the end of seven years. So growing is immersing ourselves in Jesus for our own growth in Him, and to see and discover decade after decade, year after year, what he wants to do in our lives personally and how he uses us in the lives of others. Let me throw a couple other verses out and just set a backdrop of First Peter to desire the pure milk of the words so that by it you may grow. Peter says in his last verse in his second epistle, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. There is Peter at the end of his life, right before his execution is appealing to older people. One all people who are followers of Jesus to grow Romans 829, for whom he for knew He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. Paul is speaking about our growth in Christ becoming fully like him in every way. I love Psalm 90 Verse 12, the prayer of Moses and I think about how old was he, when he wrote this, it's the oldest Psalm in the Bible. Whether these ideas developed in his mind, whether we're wandering in the desert, or near the end of his life, he says, Teach me to number my days, to value them to see the perspective. See the wisdom number my days, that I may present you a heart of wisdom, because God calls us to live wiser for him every year to keep changing. You know, the church, visions for speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into him, who is the head so we're growing in Christ, and we're growing with each other. And then let me just give one more illustration. I love Hebrews five, eight, it says, although Jesus was a Son, even as the Son of God, He learned obedience through the things that he suffered. And one of the things that life does it test status. You know, James says James, one, three counted all joy when you encounter counter various temptations, and trials, knowing God is working in your life. Well, that happened in Jesus. So as I go through My trials in 70, in my 70s, decade, or wherever you are trials at work trials and family rearing trials, and marriage trials, and anything, I want to learn obedience, develop it have that perspective of what God wants me to do, how he wants me to grow through these hardships in life, so that I can, Number Number one, trust him more just like Abraham did, in his trials in life, but also be able to share out of our own experience, what God is doing and what he has done in my life. So now, let me take a step back, interact with me, as you listen to this and give me your perspective, Randy, and let's see how we could chase this a little further. Well,
Randy Hess: 17:13
how I think it's important that you've done this review for us, and to basically to get back in touch with what finishing well. Hazmat and can mean, for someone. And the I think the critical aspect of what is our relationship, you know, in order to finish well, what is our relationship? First, with the Lord, how we looked at that, how we, what perspective do we have on that. And if I haven't been able to connect that very well to myself, I think it's probably fair to say that the whole idea of finishing well, in terms of just the idea of growth, is going to be a real challenge for me. Because if I decide, for example, that I've, I'm a guy who has grown all I need to grow, or I grow, I've grown, you know, what I've learned, I've learned, okay, and I'm not about to, not about to change it, so to speak. I might, that offers me somewhat of a challenge in my life, I would, I would think, in the way I relate to other people, but it also is a key challenge for those who might consider finishing well, and establishing, so to speak a larger purpose, for their final years for their winding down years, or their elderhood years. That's it for for the role they have whatever it is, wherever they are, whatever station, they are in life, getting back to what is my relationship with Jesus Christ? And what is what is my view of what the Lord wants for me, or am I interested in that? If I'm not interested in that, I mean, so I have a verse here that captures the challenge. X 2827. For the hearts of these people have grown callous, their ears are hard of hearing. And they have shut their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their heart and be converted and I would lead them if you close off. I think you're a big point you're making houses if you close out Have yourself in some way, limit yourself in some way. Say, you know what egotistically I think I've learned more than most people, I'm done with that you're in for a rude awakening somewhere along the way, are you not? We are that we are.
Hal Habecker: 20:24
You know, I love your thought process here. I mean, I think this is very critical. And our whole concept of retirement means there is a disengagement with what you were doing during those growing years of productivity. Regardless of what your role was in life, you know, rearing your kids and sending them off or working in a school or a hospital or leading a company, or serving somewhere where you threw your life into whatever you were doing, and you wanted to do it the best of your ability, and you come to a season of retirement and says, Well, you don't have to do that anymore. You know, your Social Security will provide for you or your earnings will provide for you. But I can take a step back and stop. And I think it's the idea we're working on in continuing to grow. Retirement doesn't mean you stop growing in any sense of the word. And my conviction is Ephesians 210, For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus, to do good works, which God ordained beforehand that we should live them out in our 60s or 70s, or 80s, or 90s, whatever we were trying to do in our 30s 40s and 50s, we're still doing the same thing, because God has a plan for us, he has a purpose for us to intentionally live with him and impact others as we grow through these elderhood years.
Randy Hess: 22:00
You and I have had our many, many discussions and small groups of men, primarily, but in many different settings. How about people growing older assumptions we make? What is the assumption we make about our wisdom, how you mentioned wisdom several times? And we do we assume that we that that automatically grows in US continues to grow in us? Do we assume that? That the older I get the Wiser I am it? It may be true? I'm not saying it isn't? I'm just saying that. If you close if people have closed themselves off along the way, you and I have talked about that, that that diagram, that diagram, where you go along in line, a continuing on the bottom of your age, you start at the left, and you go to the right, and you go from zero to whatever age I am. Maybe I'm 84 Maybe I'm 78, maybe I'm 65 whatever age I am, and you look at that line, and then you say, what's my wisdom line. And we have often said, Well, your wisdom mine angles, up north to the northeast corner, so to speak of that grid. And it just keeps going. But there is this issue. At some point, it stops for some people, and it levels off. That doesn't keep going it just levels off. And our our I guess our clarion call to people is think about yourself in terms of where you are with your life and what you want to learn. Because the more you learn, the more you can give away. The more you can give away, the more you're going to finish well. And I mean, giving away all kinds of stuff. But certainly giving away what you've learned is a part of it.
Hal Habecker: 24:16
As well said, Randy, you know, I think I've just given encouragement, just being there in people's lives. In gaining a perspective of how God wants to use you. Even in in all your years and be intentional about I think of my mother, I think of my dad, you know my dad died at age 52 My mother died at age 96. And in each of their last years, I would say they have impacted me as much in those final years even though they could not do much in terms of activity, but their intentional living of yielding their lives to God with whatever limitations they had impacted me in an incredible way, so we'd like to think of our people as being productive. I'm going to preach sermons and change people's lives. Baba Baba. You know, it's not about, it's about being faithful and intentional in our relationship with Jesus. And every year, I would say that's the key to living well, and finishing well. This good, Randy, what I'd like to do in the continuing subsequent podcast, but let's look at things that keep us from growing and why people get stunted, and why we don't do it intentionally. And some things like this, but again, what we're wanting to do in this series, his reestablish, revisit the fundamentals, the pillars of what it means to finish well and grow well, with every day that God gives us. And it's a wonderful joy. And, Randy, it's a wonderful joy to do this with you and interact together in this podcast. And our prayer is that God would encourage others through the way we share our own lives, and think out loud about what God is doing in our life. So I want to thank you and bless you. And I pray for God's blessing and anyone who hears this, the Spirit of God will take the words that we say, the meditations of our heart and use them to build up people for the kingdom of God. That's so good. Reach out. Thank you. Thanks, God bless y'all. Have a great day.