When my younger brother was 7 years old, he was helping Mom wrap Christmas gifts when he said, “What can I get for Dad?”
“What he really wants,” Mom said, “is a little peace and quiet. Too bad you can’t give him some of that,” and she laughed.
But on Christmas morning, that’s what Tommy gave, and Dad opened a basketball-sized square box with a scrap of paper in the bottom that said, “In this box is peace and quiet.” It was a huge hit.
Most of us need a bit of P&Q every so often and suffer if we don’t get it. I marveled at my kids when they were in high school, simultaneously managing homework, music, snacking, and instant messaging. Maybe I’m using old age as an excuse, but lately I’m with Dad, appreciating peace and quiet.
Sometimes I worry about the years ahead. What about the physical chaos of old age that seems to keep peace and quiet at bay? Will I be able to think straight, much less produce anything during those years?
When I was a child of about 10, I had a dress made from fabric imprinted with artwork by a woman affectionately known as Grandma Moses. This hard-working farm wife bore 10 children and then began a painting career in her late 70’s, doing her best work in her 90’s. (Recently one of her paintings sold for $1.2 million.) She died at 101. When I worry about losing my powers of concentration, I think of her and hope I can do as well. Scripture tells me I can.
Anna, a temple prophetess, had a thriving ministry of prayer and fasting well into her 90’s (Luke 2), and Sarah, Abraham’s wife, delivered a baby and breastfed him at 91 (Genesis 21). Joshua and Caleb of Old Testament fame were as strong and energetic in their 80’s as in their 30’s (Joshua 14), and Moses retained good vision and high energy up until he died at 120 (Deuteronomy 34). I wonder if any of them said, “Lord, I can’t continue on without an environment of peace and quiet.”
These examples and others are included in the Bible for an important reason: to remind us that God is the one who empowers us to complete whatever task he assigns us to do, regardless of age or of having the perfect atmosphere of peace and quiet. When we’re physically spent or overwhelmed by a must-do job, we’re instructed to “trust in the Lord” for the energy we need (Isaiah 40).
But what about a little peace and quiet along the way? Would that be too much to ask? The truth is, God is more interested in the P&Q of our inner lives than what’s going on around us. Even when turmoil is swirling, he can provide peaceful quietness in the midst of it (at any age) and enough oomph to do whatever needs doing. According to the Bible, old-age success is sure to come if we do one thing first: obey God. And he says if we do that, then we’ll “flourish in old age, remaining vital and green.” (Psalm 92)
“My flesh and my heart may fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)