“Look! He has placed the land in front of you. Go and occupy it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you. Don’t be afraid! Don’t be discouraged!” Deuteronomy 1:21, NLT
Old age is filled with the dark clouds of life – loss of loved ones, poor health, disability, financial struggles and death. Old age is a nightmare when we are gripped by fears of the “geriatric giants” of disease, disabilities, depression, dementia and death. Fear of old age blinds us to the amazing grace of God to give us joy and peace in the winter of life. Instead of a time of wonder and a beautiful time to draw close to God, such fears lead us to live “lives of quiet desperation” or to “die with all our music in us.”
The story of the Jews in the wilderness provide us with a metaphor of our spiritual journey in life. After traveling through the great and terrifying wilderness, the Jews were told to occupy the land of the Amorites when they arrived at Kadesh-barnea:
“Look! He has placed the land in front of you. Go and occupy it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you. Don’t be afraid! Don’t be discouraged!”
But the Jews were demoralized by the half-truths given by ten of the scouts. Instead of trusting in God, they complained and felt that God hated them. They forgot how God had cared for them as they traveled through the wilderness like a father caring for his child.1 This story is a depiction of spiritual warfare – to open our eyes to the power of lies and half truths which draws us away from the love of God.
Evagrius Ponticus, a desert father in the fourth century AD, shared his experience of fighting the demonic temptation against thought patterns, internal narratives and internal belief structures that enslave the soul.2 In our modern world, our minds are bombarded by lies, fake news and misinformation. We are confused and live with much dread and anxiety. Fears blind us to the power of love and drive us to put our trust in the idols of health and wealth.
To be reborn spiritually is to wake up to the reality that there is a battle between the power of love and the love of power in the world and within our hearts. We need a transformation of our minds to understand our sinful nature. Sin is not just disobeying the commandments of God. The story of Adam and Eve is a revealing narrative of the evil of seeking the love of power and losing sight of the power of love.3 The love of power leads to a godless world in which shame and blame reigns supreme.
By the grace of God we are set free from a godless world to embark on the journey into the Kingdom of Heaven. Like Jesus we will be led into a spiritual wilderness to prepare us for the spiritual war against the forces of evil. Wilderness experiences are times to seek God’s refuge, to experience the miracles of His Presence and Power and to reprogram our minds. The wilderness is a time to rewire our thoughts patterns. Old habits need to die and new habits need to be cultivated. To grow the fruits of the Spirit we need to get rid of the weeds of sin.
Fear, doubts, anger, and guilt are the spiritual giants that keep us from victory over sin and evil. Without trust in God, we are easily discouraged and react to challenges and struggles in life in panic and with fear. Without trust in God we see our weaknesses and not the power of God. It is only by faith that we can face the giants of negative thought patterns and overcome them with the power of the Holy Spirit. When we listen with our hearts and understand God’s Word with our minds, we will be filled with great joy when the joy of the Lord is our strength.4
In faith, we can practice solitude, spending time alone with God, to put off our old self and put on our new self. We do so not by trying to be alone but by abiding in Christ and letting the Holy Spirit break down the brick walls of our negative thought patterns and false beliefs so that Christ can build bridges of love and compassion through us. In solitude, we learn to listen to our thoughts and feelings without judgment so that we can bring our guilt and fears to God who is reigning deep within our hearts.
Fear blinds but faith sees. Faith is not blind but we need to acknowledge our spiritual blindness before we can pray for the faith to see. It is only by faith that I can face the Goliaths of negative thought patterns and overcome them like David, with the grace of God.5 Power reigns in the world but it is Love that reigns in God’s Kingdom. With trust in God I will not fear, for the battle belongs to God. I just need to stand firm, put on the armor of God6 and hold up God’s banner of Love over me.
“By faith we see the hand of God
In the light of creation’s grand design
In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness
Who walk by faith and not by sight”7
Lord, help me to see by faith the power of Your love so that I will not be blinded by my fears of the “geriatric giants” of old age.
1. What are the negative thought patterns that keep me from doing God’s will?
2. How can I reprogram my mind so that I can see by faith?
3. What are God’s blessings in old age that I need to keep in my heart?
Song of praise:
1. Deuteronomy 1:19-40
2. Quoted by John Mark Comer in his book, Live No Lies, page 6
3. Genesis 3:1-13, NLT
4. Nehemiah 8:7-12, NLT
5. 1 Samuel 17:32-51, NLT
6. Ephesians 6:10-18
7. By Faith, Keith Getty