The age to come
Joyfully Aging: A Christian’s Guide. Richard Bimler. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House. $12.99, paperback. 247 pages. 2012. www.cph.org.
Is “joyfully aging” an oxymoron? Ask Richard Bimler, author of an insightful book by that title, who has been described as an “ambassador of health, hope and aging.” He invites readers to celebrate God’s gift of aging and its many blessings instead of complaining about those things they are no longer able to do.
Although we have no choice whether to grow old, we can decide how we choose to live out our later years. Bimler challenges seniors to experience growing older as a spiritual passage in their lives and engages them with spiritual insights and positive, hopeful outlooks. Using stories and anecdotes from his own life, he demonstrates how to live with courage and passion.
Following a brief introduction and preceding his 46 concise chapters on many facets of aging, Bimler encourages readers to spend time reflecting on 10 statements that focus on what they think about aging, discuss them with another adult, and (gasp!) even “talk with a youngster about your outlook and perspective on life.”
The opening paragraph of the first chapter, titled “The Attitude of Aging” is the thesis, setting the tone for the rest of the book. Bimler says, “Aging is a gift and a blessing. To accept each day as a gift from the Lord is to celebrate Christ’s presence within us. In contrast, to see aging as a burden, a problem, or a chore is to deny what the Lord gives to us each day: A new life in Him!”
It’s the questions, not the answers
With a masterful blend of wit, wisdom and worship, Bimler – a gifted Christian humorist and wordsmith – examines aging from the viewpoint of a happy victim of the phenomenon. God, he maintains, intends aging to be a joyful, lifelong process. In this light, he asserts God reserves the gift of grandchildren until we are old enough to appreciate and enjoy them.
Bimler does not have all the answers. Don’t expect him to suggest how to make life perfect; he won’t make problems and pains go away. Instead the book affirms life as a gift from God, despite our worries, woes, wrinkles, and whining. It is about living into Christ’s proclamation: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
David Walsh, prominent psychologist, author, speaker, and founder of the Twin Cities-based National Institute on Media and the Family, calls Joyfully Aging “an antidote to our youth-obsessed culture with a perspective on aging as a time to reflect, mentor, laugh, connect, and pray, … a treasure for old and young alike!”
Coralyn Bryan is a proofreader of Metro Lutheran.