I have a star on my fridge, awarded me by one of our Kids Club. It has a prayer on it – ‘Pauline, live long.’
Strangely, I wouldn’t always have been happy to receive such a prayer, for I had a fear of living too long. I felt God had honoured my husband by taking him when he did. Though Joel was eighty one he was still young at heart. He did not suffer and he did not see old age. Almost his last words before he died were, ‘I believe God is going to do great things.’ And God is.
I guess I dreaded living with no quality of life. But when someone spoke into my life that I would still be ministering at a hundred, someone, I may say, whose words I have proved in the past, I remembered a special holiday we had in Laugharn. Walking on a coastal path, I turned up a couple of steps, as we were not sure of the way. No, it was not the path, but I had been meant to step aside, for God had been there in a special way. ‘Lord, I don’t mind living to be a hundred now.’ His presence had been so awesome. How could I fear the gift of life if he was with me?
Now in my eighties, I’m glad they don’t think I am too old to still go into the schools. While teaching ‘Bible Explorer’ God is continually telling me not to give up, but always to embrace life as his gift, his ‘present.’ Terah kept the family in Haran waiting for him to die before they could continue to the Promised Land. I tell the children, if only he had been willing to take one more step, he could have got there too.
Then there is Isaac. He gave up much too soon, living for many years after Jacob tricked his brother out of his birth-right. We can have a quality of life, even with little or no eyesight.
But best I love the story of Moses. He didn’t begin his ministry until he was eighty and when he came to die at 120, his eye was not dim not his natural strength abated. I heard of a lady who, aged 70, was healed of heart disease. Her daughter told her, ‘Remember, you don’t have to be ill to die.’ She wasn’t. Helping her with the chores, enjoying her dinner and cup of tea, she leaned back and was home with Jesus.
I have never had good health, and they told me I was not strong enough to be a missionary, but God has taught me to lean hard on him, and though some may think it is now time for me to give up, he is asking me to take life, a day at a time, as his gift to me, and to prove him still to be my strength and my song.
When a beloved partner dies it is easy to long to be in heaven with them. But the Lord reminds me that if he had taken me to heaven when I asked, and there I realised how many more children I could have led to him, I would have been deeply ashamed. How thankful I am that a little child has prayed for Pauline to live long.
‘Children obey your parents and you will live long in the land.’ Life is his gift, and it is up to us to enjoy it. We can still claim the Lord as our healer, whatever our age, and we can trust God for whatever task he places in our hands. So now, when I am weary and feel like giving up, I ask the Lord to anoint me afresh with his oil of gladness.
So do I expect to live to a hundred? I thank God that he has made me willing to trust him if it should be so, but I am content to know that he has numbered my days.
I believe it was George Muller who said we should live each day as if Jesus were coming today, but plan as if he may not come for a hundred years. So, whether he comes or calls, may we all take a day at a time as God’s gift, and a step at a time in his strength.