Very soon I’ll turn 71 which, I’ve taken to saying, is really just 17 backwards. It gets a laugh, but in some ways it’s true. I don’t feel very different on the inside with the passing of the years. The outside is another matter. Looking in the mirror I get such a shock to see my mum looking back. I’ve lived lots between 17 and 71, through great times and grim, but inside I’m still that 17 year-old who decided to turn her life over to Christ.
Last Sunday I was interviewed on our Zoom church. Where had I first heard about God? I’d gone to Sunday School for a few years up to the age of 12 – and was made to wear a hat – quite a trial for a person whose ears stick out, let me tell you. At high school I went to Interschool Christian Fellowship and learned lots - including how to play the piano for people to sing – if you get lost in the music tell them to keep singing and catch up in the next line. Just before I turned 16, I was introduced to a lovely young man from my friends’ church who, I was informed, told the same weak jokes as I did. They were right. We’ve been married for 50 years now and we still laugh together. His mother was a wonderful, loving, practical woman. We loved to talk and along the way she told me how she’d become a Christian as a young mother, through the testimony of a friend who was dying of breast cancer.
How did I become a Christian? One night at church the minister asked had we given our lives to Jesus and urged us to do so in prayer. I did. I didn’t tell anybody – not even the man I would later marry or his mother. I didn’t go to bible studies. My dad had died recently and my family was very complicated. I prayed when I could. A year later I realised I was a completely different person. I took my faith in Jesus seriously, loved reading His word and tried to care for others. God had saved me despite myself. And that peace has carried me through. Even when I worry, or feel down, or not coping, I feel myself in the palm of God’s hand.
So, 17 or 71, or anywhere in between, we are still God’s Children. A loving God who sent his son to die and rise again to bring us life. I plan to celebrate being 71, to thank God for all His blessings, to look in the mirror and love the wrinkles and the age spots and the grey hair that used to be my mother’s and are now mine. The skin-deep world encourages women to obliterate age with magic creams and treatments and dyes. Our heart-deep Father blesses us at all ages with a beauty beyond belief.
'Charm can fool you, and beauty can trick you, but a woman who respects the LORD should be praised.'
PROVERBS 31:31 (NCV)
Jeanie Wood is the author of The Travel Club, published by Elephant House Press, 2019. She has a PHD in Creative Writing and features in Dear Jesus Diaries.
The Travel Club - Rides Again is coming in 2021.