Those who are planted in the house of the LORD Shall flourish in the courts of our God.They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing, To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him!
I may not be "old", but I'm a grandmother now, and Biblically, that gives me a right to open my mouth and speak the word of the Lord. I'll never forget, shortly after Hannah discovered she was pregnant, the Holy Spirit spoke to me clearly and succinctly, and said, "You are now that older woman." (..."the older women should teach the younger women...")
Of course, I took that as a compliment. My self esteem is through the roof these days - because my concept of womanhood has, over a period of many years, been transformed to be more Biblical than ever. Becoming a grandparent has not diminished my sense of femininity or sensuality or joy or energy. If anything, life has gotten sweeter, and marriage more intimate and fulfilling - and believe me, it has always been good, if hard at times. So to be able to say that marriage is better and sweeter is saying something quite nice.
Physically, I feel as young as ever. I'm in great health. And I admit to the gift of good genes - my own mother does not at all show her age. Spiritually, there's a good bit of miles on the motor, as I've walked and talked with the God of all grace for 38 years now. I'm bearing fruit in my old(ish) age.
I'm flourishing, because I am planted. But I'm not just planted any-old-where. I'm planted in the local church. I've built a grace-bridge to the people I love in my local church...and it will never be burned by my hands. I can't be a blessing, or build a bridge to the church universal...I want to see you try to "bear the burdens" of the "church universal", or even the "church internet". I want to see you try to "imitate the faith of those over you" when you, in fact, answer to no one in particular; or when you, in fact, don't really know those who watch over your soul.
The long and the short of it is this: you really have to be planted in the church local, in order to flourish. I find it sad when people think they are flourishing outside the church local. All it is, is they have seen a measure of success, and they think that's all there is. When there is so, so much more.
But the "more" comes at a mighty price.
Nothing...nothing matures you like right relationships. Nothing separates the precious from the worthless like gut-honest communication by flawed people, with equally flawed people. Nothing defines spiritual leadership more than the insistence on relationship as priority over moralism, nothing tests leadership more than the defense of relationships in the context of Christian community. To walk in that sort of leadership, you have to have a theological and practical understanding of the God Who Is Community.
If you are not planted, get planted. If you have broken relationships, go back and repair them with the people who count...versus attempting to re-establish communication with people you perceive as being on the peripheral. (There's something creepy about that - everyone knows.) If you were offended by the choir director, then it is the choir director you need to be emailing or calling, not the lady who takes care of the nursery. Trust me, you may not pick and choose who you will or won't get in touch with, if your real heart is to make things right. You must get in touch with the very ones you disagreed with, and if you hurt or betrayed anyone, you must get in touch with the very ones you hurt and betrayed. No one else. Not before you make things right with the people you wronged, or who wronged you. Even if that means the preacher and/or his wife. You. Go. There. First.
In painfully practical terms, being planted is a blessing....get planted. It is the only way to flourish all the way into old age. And really...is there another way to age? What is the alternative? Otherwise, you slowly wither and petrify and become stale, jaded, stilted, petty and comical, alone and a loner, bored and boring.
Ain't no way to live.
And now, back to my crazy-flourishing life...God, how I thank you for your gifts and the grace of your gifts...