Fulfilled living in later life
Discipleship that sustains

Thursday 30th May 2024

Discipleship that sustains

Investing in our faith now will help prepare us for any challenges that come with older age, as Alex Drew from our partner charity Faith in Later Life explains

Psalm 1 reminds us that people who consistently spend time meditating on God’s word are like trees planted on the riverbank, bearing fruit in every season. Establishing these and other healthy discipleship rhythms as soon as possible is a wonderful way of preparing ourselves for the future; getting ready for fruitfulness in later life. But like all good habits, these rhythms of deepening our relationship with God are unlikely to happen by accident.

My friend Iris had followed Jesus as her Lord and Saviour from the age of 11. Seventy-eight years later she suffered a massive stroke which left her almost unable to move or speak. In the last two years of her life Iris lived in a care home, and whenever I walked into her room she just shone. It sounds ridiculous really; Iris was severely disabled during this time, no doubt severely frustrated too, and she was by no means living the life she planned or had previously enjoyed, and yet, she exuded the glory of Jesus with every fibre of her being. Without words or movement Iris engaged in worship, prayer, and readings from the Bible like she was sitting at the feet of Jesus. And in her interactions with other visitors and those who cared for her, Iris showed kindness, patience, and always a beautiful smile.

It was an extraordinary lesson for me of the value of discipleship that sustains. I have no doubt that what Iris was experiencing and ‘shining out’ during the most challenging time of her life, was the fruit of a lifetime investment in her relationship with Jesus: discipleship.

Before her stroke, Iris had been a committed member of her local church, where she worshipped, and served. During the pandemic when she stayed home, Iris supported the church in prayer, by encouraging and supporting people over the phone, and she joined her home group via Zoom every week.

She was dedicated to her daily Bible readings and prayers, and she responded to God’s call to help those in need financially and practically.

Iris was by no means perfect, but in her later life, these habits which she’d been building since she was 11 years old were well practised, deeply rooted, and enabled her to simultaneously endure hardship and glorify God; what an incredible example.

We’d all aspire to be like Iris in later life. But how? We don’t all have 78 years ahead of us to practise!

Well as the saying goes “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now”. The good news is, it’s never too late to start a good habit of discipleship. God is not limited by time, and He can transform our relationship with Him as we intentionally spend time with Him in His Word, by His Spirit in prayer, and through His people.

Setting time aside each day is a good starting point. Belonging to a Bible believing church, using apps and Bible notes, journalling, discipleship and prayer groups, worshipping, and spiritual mentoring can expand our thinking and help us get to know our heavenly Father better.

The value of journeying with others is also not to be underestimated. Proverbs 27:17 reminds us that ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another’. Receiving wisdom and witnessing the example of older Christians (like my friend Iris) can help us along the way.

Society can have us believing that as we approach the more difficult aspects of later life, our worth decreases because we can’t ‘do’ as much as we used to. These attitudes are a stark contradiction to the words we find in the Bible.

Words reminding us that God loved us before the foundation of the world, that we were created for His glory, and that He will sustain us and never leave us.

Later life is an opportunity to share the everlasting love of God with the world around us. It’s our deeply rooted faith that will make it possible, even through the challenging times. Let’s keep investing now in discipleship that will sustain us then.

Recommended resources:
• The Bible - it seems obvious, but we mustn’t neglect the inspired Word of God, God’s special revelation to us as the ultimate authority for the Christian life
Finishing Well by Ian Knox
DailyHOPE - a free phoneline to listen to
hymns, prayers, and Bible reflections
0800 804 8044
• Daily devotionals such as Every Day with
Jesus and Streams in the Desert

Save the Date: Discipleship that Sustains
12th September • An online event with David Price.

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