by Laura Petherbridge
Put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth. Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil an opportunity…Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. Ephesians 4: 24-27, 31-32 CSB
Lately I’ve noticed little things that reveal I’m getting older. Some of them include:
- I find myself gravitating to the anti-wrinkle section of the cosmetic counter.
- I no longer have any idea what color lipstick I’m applying because I can’t read the small print on the bottom of the tube.
- I walk into a room only to discover I have absolutely no recollection of why I’m there.
But the Bible shares a positive side to aging, “Wisdom is found with the elderly, and understanding comes with long life” (Job 12:12 CSB). My bones and hair may be thinning, but I am not defeated. As I age, I can become smarter than ever before, if I’m teachable and desire it.
This is fabulous news.
In my 40-year journey with Jesus (so far) I have discovered a few litmus tests to evaluate whether I’m getting smarter, or merely older. These can be found in the above verses from Ephesians. I can tell I’m growing as a Christian when:
Trials and temptations are viewed as an opportunity for growth. This doesn’t mean I’m skipping through a storm, shouting “Praise the Lord” and pretending pain doesn’t exist. It means I’ve learned that God can be trusted in the middle of a crisis. I know he can bring good out of bad. The result may make me stronger than before. I hate the storm, but I love the results.
There is an increased awareness of areas of weakness and the tendency to sin. Maturing in Christ doesn’t mean I don’t sin. It does mean that my radar is sharper, my knowledge of God’s Word is greater, and my desire to obey God is intense. When I’m growing in Christ, and I realize I’m disobeying Him, I’m quick to confess. I sincerely repent, and ask God to help me avoid this situation in the future. I must be willing to make sacrifices if that’s what’s necessary to avoid sin. The passion to be free is fierce.
I’m not embarrassed, or arrogant, about being different. If it’s been a long time since I’ve shared Jesus with another person, that’s an indication my relationship with God is in trouble. When I lack enthusiasm about God’s amazing grace, or the price it cost Jesus to save my soul, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate. When I discover my comments, and social media posts, are focused on an “us versus them” mentality, that’s an indication that pride has crept into my life. Pride is always spelled, S-I-N.
I recognize God owns it ALL. There isn’t a person, place or thing in my life that couldn’t be gone is 30 seconds. I have no ability to keep or control anything. God can choose to remove my husband, family, home, health, bank account and anything else he feels is wise. At first I didn’t like these sobering thoughts, but when I admitted that God is in control, not me—a huge burden was lifted. He has given me the privilege to be the caretaker of the people or things to which I’m entrusted. But I don’t own them. He does.
I’ve learned to dance with my Creator. Many of my early Christian years were spent in an exhausting performance for God. I kept trying to earn the love He has already given for free. Fear kept me from accepting His embrace, but His zealous love won out. I finally gave in and accepted His lavish love. I heard him whisper, “You are beautiful and precious to me. I delight in you, Laura. Relax, Beloved. I will never leave you. Never.” Because I stopped performing, wrestling and resisting, we now dance like a bride and groom.
God is helping me to focus and keep Him the main thing, so those new wrinkles don’t matter as much. Now—if I could only find where I put my cell? A-L-E-X-A, find my phone!
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Laura Petherbridge is an international speaker and author of, When ‘I Do’ Becomes ‘I Don’t’, The Smart Stepmom, 101 Tips for The Smart Stepmom, and Quiet Moments for the Stepmom Soul. She has appeared at/on the Billy Graham Center, Family Talk (Dobson), Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman, FamilyLife, Lifeway and Moody Broadcasting. She has been a featured expert on the DivorceCare DVD series implemented in over 60,000 churches worldwide. In addition to the USA, she has spoken in South Africa, Australia, and Canada. Laura and Steve live in Atlanta, Ga and have been married for 35 years. She has two stepsons, daughters in law, and grandkids. She may be reached at www.TheSmartStepmom.com.
Laura’s resource When I Do Becomes I Don’t-Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce is answers to her most FAQ after 30 years in divorce recovery and stepfamily ministry. It includes chapters for friends and family, and a section for church leadership.
Join the conversation: In what ways have you seen yourself growing wiser?