“Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, ‘After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?’”
King James Version
“Sarai: Never Too Old For Pleasure”
“We should lay in a store of food, but never of pleasures; these should be gathered day by day.” - Ninon de Lenclos
What are the special people and events in my life that give me pleasure?
Do I take time each day to allow happiness to fill my life?
“Since happiness is nothing but the enjoyment of the highest good, and since the highest good is above, then no one can be happy unless (she) rises above (herself), not by a physical ascent, but by an ascent of the heart.” - Bonaventure
“Listen to me…you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. 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 will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
Isaiah 46: 3, 4
New International Version
Many years ago, one of my dearest friends, Edna, a woman in her eighties, introduced me to this beautiful text in Isaiah. Edna had curly white hair, and as she shared with me the words of Isaiah, a big smile crossed her face. “Dorothy, I never worry about growing old,” she said emphatically. I had often wondered how Edna felt as she grew older. Her son had died as a young man and her husband had also passed away when Edna was quite young. For years, she was alone and as the time passed swiftly by, I wondered how she would handle the loss of other friends. When I asked Edna, she pulled out her very used Bible and read Isaiah 46 to me. “I don’t worry at all. In fact, I’m enjoying every day God gives me,” Edna beamed.
As we learned yesterday, Sarah got the shock of her life, when after menopause, she was informed she was going to have a baby. In Genesis 18, we find Sarah asking this pointed question: “After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure?” If we read on, we note that Sarah also points out that Abraham was no youngster, either. If we paraphrase this text from the Hebrew translation it reads like this: “Can two old people ‘behave’ like they lived in a house of delight and pleasure?” Sounds rather gloomy to me. Evidently, Sarah and Abraham felt life had passed them by. God’s promise of a son, God’s promise to have a great nation come from their offspring was only a dream. This wasn’t their reality. Their reality was a childless, unhappy, pleasrureless existence. And I ask you, is this any way to live?
I say, “No!” While whatever happens to us as we travel life’s path does affect our attitude, embracing joy and happiness is also a choice we have, no matter what obstacles we have faced or what we will run into in the future. The English writer, Samuel Johnson, observed: “Hope is itself a species of happiness, and perhaps, the chief happiness which the world affords.” When we combine this thought with the words of David the Psalmist, “For in Thee, O Lord, do I hope” (Psalm 38: 15, K.J.V.) and with the words of Jeremiah in Lamentations 3: 21-23 (K.J.V.): “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassion, fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness,” we can awaken each day with hope in the promise of our Father that even when our hair is white (or it has all fallen out), He will be there to carry us and rescue us. His pleasure will fill our lives because our hope is, “in the Lord.”
Several years ago I read a story that brought a new thought to my life. It is in a little book called Every Woman Has a Story, which contains compiled stories by women of different ages as well as spiritual perspectives. I just loved this story written by Cay Randall-May, Ph.D. I want to share some excerpts with you today with the “hope” you will find this it as inspiring as I did:
“It began as a gathering of women in the rosy amber twilight of a spring evening in Tucson. We were friends whose lives were about to intertwine in a strong braid of shared experience. Our leader asked us to sum up the memories of each decade of our lives. ‘What was it like to be in your twenties?’ I was glad I wasn’t the first to speak, because it took a moment for me to reconnect with that intense, fiery, burn-the-candle-on both-ends woman/child of the 1960s who I had been. Sensuous and fanatically serious, I was mesmerized with dreams of impossible achievement…I felt relief when those of us no longer in our twenties were asked to take a step forward, tightening the circle.
“Now share what it was like to be in your thirties,’ our leader prompted. My eyes closed. Sounds of birth cries, the primal embrace of a totally trusting swaddled infant, the smell of baby powder and diapers overwhelmed me. I had discovered the most difficult and rewarding job of all, motherhood, at the age of thirty. My thirties were a time of changed priorities, deflated party balloons, struggle with budgets, and plain hard work. Would I willingly return to that time of snowsuits and runny noses, putting the Christmas tree in the playpen to keep it from the toddlers? I don’t think so, but I didn’t want to step forward, either.
“Because the next step was the forties, and those who had experienced this decade sighed with me. How could ten short years have held such highs and lows? I wished the twilight were a little deeper so no one could see the tears creeping down my checks, but other faces were also glistening…This decade which began in gut-stabbing sorrow, ended in joy.
“Another inward step, this time not so tentative, brought us to the fifties. Eyes began to sparkle again and I heard the giggles of those relieved to have once more survived their forties. We who were privileged to stand in the fifties decade shared newly explored interests, old talents polished like jewels, and we were finding our true path...What would women in their sixties share? Could that decade possibly be as good as the fifties, or was it in the downward side of the mountain, as I had always been led to expect. I held back as the circle squeezed closer.
“One by one, the members of the inner circle shared stories of personal freedom, new loves, the joys of grandchildren, travel and adventures, punctuated with smiles and glowing glances…There was something worth knowing here. The women in this circle of decades were becoming more profoundly happy as they matured. A sliver of doubt wedged in my mind that maybe it was just something about the sixties decade that was so rewarding. Surely, the seventies would be different. My doubts didn’t last long.
“Our leader proudly stepped forward, the only representative of the seventies, to become the heart of our circle…Her vigorous, wise-woman leadership spoke decibels louder than any words she could say. What I experienced that afternoon in the ‘circle of decades’ helped me edit my life’s script so that I look forward to the challenges and transitions ahead.”
“And even to your old age, I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” - Isaiah 46:4 King James Version
“(She) who bends to (herself) a joy—
Does the winged life destroy;
But (she) who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.”
Change Should Breed Change
“New doth the sun appear,
The mountains’ snows decay.
Crowned with frail flowers forth comes the baby year.
My soul, time posts away.
And thou yet in that frost
Which flower and fruit hath lost,
As if all here immortal were, dost stay:
For shame! Thy powers awake,
Look to that heaven which never night makes black,
And there, at that immortal sun’s bright rays,
Deck these with flowers which fear not rage of days.”
William Drummond of Hawthornden
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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