My dad can eat a lot. I am always amazed when I look at his plate if we are having a meal together. It is definitely what everyone would call a full plate. Even so, I know that soon there will be nothing left on it. Really. He never leaves any food on his dish. Dad is also amazed when he looks at my plate. He questions the smaller amount of food I have put on my dish. When the meal is over he wants to know why I didn’t eat every last bite. I wish I could. But that would catch up with me very quickly. Not my dad. Even though he can enjoy many big meals, he never seems to gain any weight. He even laughs about it. I’m happy for him.
Happy and a little jealous.
Not many of us can indulge by eating a lot of full plates. But full plates can be a part of our lives in other ways as we get older. Being older means one day we look up and things look different around us. Things in our homes look, sound and even smell differently because our kids don’t live there anymore. Our weekends are less filled and less frantic and sometimes less fun without those kids around. Things at work begin to slow down, and eventually we find ourselves walking away from a place where we have invested tons of time and energy. Things we were good at, we may not be so good at anymore. So as we age, what’s a person to do?
This is the time we need to head out and buy some new dishes. Not literal dishes … although that’s not a bad idea, because by this time most of our dishes are chipped and mismatched anyway. But more importantly, we need a new plate. And we need to make a plan to fill that plate. Growing older means keeping our plate full so that life continues to be a journey and not a discouraging detour.
Here are some ideas for having a full plate:
PEOPLE. By this time in our lives we know many people. And we know them well. Enjoy them. Invite them. Encourage them. But be creative about it. Now that we have more time we can use that time to our advantage. Make a special meal. Try a new activity.
Recently my husband and I invited my dad and our daughter’s family to make s’mores around a campfire in our backyard. It turned into a marshmallow fight with everyone running around screaming. By the end of the night we were all stuck to each other, but that was okay. There was a time we would have worried about the mess and the clean up and the wild animals sure to come out of the woods to grab their own marshmallow. But since we are older now, we didn’t care.
PLACES. Travel is always a good thing. Go to those places you always wished you could go. But if you can’t, go to those places you didn’t know you should go. You may have to get on the computer to research those places, which may not be your favorite thing to do, but older people should get better at that anyway. Find those places that are just around the corner or just a town or two away. Grab some friends and go. Stay as late as you want. You don’t have to get up real early in the morning anymore. A bonus.
CREATE. When we use our head and our hands, wonderful things can happen. We can discover that we are a poet, or an artist, or a carpenter, or a chef. We can even pretend that we are a singer. This works best in the shower. It doesn’t matter what we create, the results will always be the same. It feels good. It feels good because God is a creator and we are His children. When we create we feel close to Him. When the missionary Eric Liddell ran competitively he told his sister that God made him fast and when he ran he felt God’s good pleasure. God smiles when our creativity points to His goodness.
PURPOSE. If you don’t have a purpose to get up each morning, you may just stay in bed. If you just stay in bed, you may miss something important. Like your life. God has given you spiritual gifts so that you can bless others and please Him. That never changes. Take a good look at the gifts and talents given to you and find out how to use them in new ways. Blessing someone else’s life will always bless your life. By the way, if you make a simple schedule before you go to bed, you will look forward to the next day’s plans. Make a plan to flex your servant muscles and see what God will bring your way. And then pick up a pizza on the way home.
GOD. Recently I was in a worship service and I noticed a much older man standing near me. He didn’t notice me. He was only noticing God. His eyes were shut and he was singing to God with all his heart. I could tell that this man had never slowed down his love for God, even though he probably had slowed down in other areas. Wow. I bet that didn’t happen just because he hoped it would. I bet God was a natural part of his thoughts and actions throughout the day and into the night because he was determined to know Him. If we put God on a shelf as we grow older, we may forget to take Him off of it. God brought us into this world, and He will take us out of this world. Meanwhile, we have the opportunity to make Him our all in all. As we become older, we can get more and more determined about that.
One day we will be in glory with our Savior and live a life beyond our imagination.
Until that day, let’s fill our plate. A full plate means a full life. Let’s enjoy every last bite.
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