One of the challenges all of us will face as we get older is to remain strong spiritually until the end of our lives. The Savior said, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13 in the Bible)
“Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.” (3 Nephi 15:9 in the Book of Mormon) “And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.” (Doctrine & Covenants 14: 7 p. 25). Until I became a senior citizen the “aging gracefully spiritually” was not a concern, but now that I am a senior citizen it is a great concern.
Martine Leavitt discusses this challenge in a recent article.
“I’ve noticed that my stamina is not what it was, and I have many aches and pains and little signs that my age is not, as some say, just a number. Of course, with age comes many blessings: grandchildren; the wonderful sense that you have accomplished a thing or two; a deeper understanding, perhaps, of the meaning of life. Still, in my new status as a senior citizen, I’ve put more thought into what it means to be old. I have heard the phrase “aging gracefully,” and I’ve pondered what that might mean in the perspective of gospel living.
Out in the world, aging is spoken of, at times, as something slightly sad or even preventable: ‘Well, if you’d just taken care of yourself, this wouldn’t be happening to you!’ Another worldly view of aging sends the message that we are entitled to a life of meaningless relaxation after all those years of hard work. I’m coming to the understanding that neither of these notions is accurate. Yes, I should care for my physical body even into my older years, but I haven’t done anything wrong by getting old. And yes, I may be retired from my day job, but there are some things, it appears, that we can never retire from. Those who have begun to be old may have tread the covenant path diligently for many years. It is a beaten path, and we have walked it steadily enough and long enough that it no longer sprouts weeds. But perhaps with every age comes some obstacle along the path, small or large temptations to deviate from the path. For me in my older years, I’ve been tempted to sit down by the path and take my rest. I’ve caught myself thinking that surely, at my age, I needn’t attend the optional Church activities that people work so hard to plan. Don’t they know I go to bed at 8:00 p.m.? It may be easy to become casual in daily repentance. But being old, should we not also be wise? The covenant path is about making covenants and also about keeping them. We never retire from keeping covenants. It takes a lifetime of trying to get it right, even all the way to the end of a lifetime, be it ever so long. Surely we don’t want to rest ourselves on the path just yet. What a blessing to meet the Lord, when our days are over, knowing that we endured to the end—the very end.
President Russell M. Nelson, aged 98, has taught: ‘Even though our Creator endowed us with this incredible power [the ability of the body to heal from injury or illness], He consigned a counterbalancing gift to our bodies. It is the blessing of aging, with visible reminders that we are mortal beings destined one day to leave this ‘frail existence.’ He seems to be saying that our aging bodies should be reminders that our time may be short on the earth, and so we should be about finishing our work, not stopping our work. I’ve decided that aging gracefully will mean, to me at least, to age with the grace of my Savior, Jesus Christ. He will ease the way when it needs to be eased and give me strength to carry forward. I will continue to pray for determination to walk the covenant path and to do it in style—even if it’s with a cane.” (Martine Leavitt, “On the Covenant Path with a Cane” Liahona Mag. June, 2020)
What is the Covenant Path
The covenant path refers to our taking the name of Jesus Christ in our lives and keeping His commandments.
“If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14: 15 in the Bible)
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all the ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6 in the Bible)
“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the inticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love,..”
(Mosiah 3: 19 p. 153 in the Book of Mormon).
We still must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
Knowing that all His righteous purposes and promises will be fulfilled and we will eventually receive all the blessings in store for us in the great Plan of Salvation.