February 25, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Today’s devotion is written by Alice Fryling. If you missed my introduction of Alice in yesterday’s devotion, you can read it here. – Mark
Scripture—Acts 10:14-15 (NIV)
“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
If we hope to keep growing spiritually as we age, we will need to embrace God’s invitation to new ways of looking at ourselves and new ways of living.
One of the challenges of getting older is that we change. As opportunities and energy diminish, things that used to define our lives change. It is painful to let go of the goals and values that used to energize us. We may ask ourselves, “What do I do now that people no longer want me to do the important things that I have always loved to do?” Or “What do I do when people ask for something that I don’t have the energy to do?”
Into this conundrum, God invites us to change the assumptions we have about ourselves, others, and God. In the book of Acts, God invited Peter to make a significant change. Peter was probably much younger than we are, but we can learn from his story.
Peter fell asleep about noontime when he was hungry. In a vision, he saw a sheet come down filled with a potential lunch. But this lunch would have meant eating animals that he, as a Jewish believer, was forbidden to eat. Three times God told him to change his mind about what he could not eat. “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” God replied, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (See Acts 10:9-16 for the full account.)
Peter’s response to changing his mind about something so important to him is similar to what I might say as I age. “Oh, no, Lord, slowing down and changing my way of life and ministry are not things I can do.” God might remind me that “No, Lord” is an oxymoron. Those two words don’t belong together. Then God might remind me that growth means change. If I do not change, I will not grow.
Jesus said, “You are blessed when you’ve lost it all. God’s kingdom is there for the finding” (Luke 6:20, MSG). Paul said: “Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace” (2 Cor. 4:16, MSG). When I change my mind about the importance of all I think I know and all I need to do, I discover another truth from Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20, MSG). When I look at my senior years as a gift and not a handicap, I find the freedom to embrace the new work of God in my life.
Changing our minds in this way is not easy. We stumble like little children learning a new skill. As we stumble, God invites us to remember that he has been carrying us since our birth. He says to us, “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 sill sustain you and I will rescue you” (Isaiah 46:4). God is with us, even as we change.
How would you have responded if you had been Peter on that rooftop?
Whatever age you are now, reflect on the changes in your life. How have you changed in the last five years?
What changes might the next five years bring? How would you like to respond to these changes?
Write out God’s promise in Isaiah 46:4, inserting your own name. “Even to _____________‘s old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain _____________. I have made _____________ and I will carry_____________. I sill sustain _____________ and I will rescue _____________.”
Gracious God, help me to say YES to your invitation to change me. Transform my resistance into willingness. Help me, I pray, to accept the boundary lines you have given me in this season of life. I believe you have set these boundaries in pleasant places. Thank you for your gifts to me today. Amen. (See Psalm 16:5-6)
You can learn more about the De Pree Center’s Third Third Initiative here.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Work and Christian Identity (Acts 8-12)
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Alice Fryling is a spiritual director and a bestselling author of ten books on relationships and spiritual formation, including her new book Aging Faithfully: The Holy Invitation of Growing Older. Alice received training in Spiritual Direction from the Christos Center in Minneapolis, and training in the Enneagram at Loyola University. She has been leading Enneagram workshops for thirty years, teaching participants how to use the Enneagram to know God and themselves more deeply. She is also certified to teach the Myers Briggs Temperament Inventory. She and her husband, Bob, have two married daughters and four grandchildren. They live in Monument, Colorado.