Pastor Dale Umphrey: The aesthetic of aging

The Treasure:  The Aesthetic (beauty) of Aging

God has graced me with the delight of being involved in several aging ministers’ golden years.

Just as in the recent winter Olympics races, the gold medal is determined in the final lap.

Although many people attempt to sprint through life, Pastor Umphrey’s life shouts, “Life is a marathon and the end is better than the beginning.”

For me, Pastor Dale’s last years are his finest.

God declares of Israel:

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine.  Exodus 19:5

People and nations are God’s treasured possessions, but people are, to you and me, God’s treasured gift.

Pastor Umphrey is, for you and me, God’s treasured gift.

He is your treasured:

  • Husband
  • Father
  • Grandfather
  • Pastor
  • Friend

He is a treasure!

He was home to a great treasure, the treasure of God’s glory.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

The glorious aesthetic of Christian aging is, as the outer man is wasting away, the inner man’s glory is renewed day by day.

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.  2 Corinthians 5:1-5

The glorious aesthetic of aging is that as the tent is declining, the glory is growing.

  1. He is a treasure.
  2. He is filled with God’s treasure.
  3. He is now with the One he treasured.

He is now “present with the Lord” who is the One he treasured.

Pastor Umphrey’s treasure has always been God.

He lived according to Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

This treasure, filled with God’s treasure, has moved to his treasure.

Robert Frost stated it well for the aging Christian, “The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”

Participating in the aging process has increased my love of the song, “When I’ve gone the last mile of the way.”

If I walk in the pathway of duty,
If I work till the close of the day,
I shall see the great King in His beauty,
When I’ve gone the last mile of the way.

  • Refrain:
    When I’ve gone the last mile of the way,
    I will rest at the close of the day;
    And I know there are joys that await me,
    When I’ve gone the last mile of the way.

The aesthetic of aging fulfills Ecclesiastes’ (3:11) prophecy, “He makes all things beautiful in its time.”

The aesthetic of aging calls us to the beauty of the image of God in every human being.

Because of the person and ministry of Jesus the aesthetic of aging leads to a new and renewed beauty.

With faith in Jesus for salvation the mortal puts on immortality, the perishable is raised imperishable, what is dishonored is raised in glory, what is weak is raised in power, and what is natural is raised spiritual.  1 Corinthians 15:42-44

And that is beautiful!