When I was young, I found myself in church more often than most boys my age. It seemed like I was the only young person in attendance. I couldn’t help but notice that most of the people who were there generally had white hair. I remember being impressed by those who lingered afterwards quietly praying when they didn’t have to. However, I was never bold enough to ask them why they stayed to pray. After all, I was just a boy who had adventures waiting outside as soon as I left church. It took quite a while for me to understand, but I now know perhaps “why” they might have stayed.
There is a quiet conversion that seems to happen late in life for many. It’s not a sudden dramatic conversion, but more of a gradual awakening to a new perspective, a metanoia ofsorts. Metanoia is a Greek word that means a change of mind, or a conversion. Later-in-life conversions tend to happen slowly over time so we don’t hear as much about them as we do about the dramatic ones such as the apostle Paul experienced.
A late-in-life metanoia experience is like a mid-winter sunrise. It seems to happen so slowly that we hardly notice it. Likewise, it is often with little notice on our part that we begin to feel more drawn to our faith. We have more time to reflect on our lives and on the lives of those we love. Something changes in our hearts over the years. Our thoughts and concerns often lead us to prayer. Some describe the experience as being “wooed” softly by God’s grace.
God views growing older differently than the world does today. He promises that it is never too late to enjoy his saving grace and a deeper relationship with Him. Witnessing our lives filled with love, joy and peace is important for our grandchildren.
Youth are impressed when they hear from a grandfather, now in his seventies, about his profound faith conversion in high school or how an eighty-year-old grandmother was touched by God at a college bible study years ago and immediately dedicated her life to the Lord. They are drawn to the “WOW-factor” story. However, they also benefit from hearing a grandparent’s later-in-life story about the gentle “wooing” and ongoing conversion that is leading them to deep joy and peace in God today.
In this Christmas season, maybe you can try to fit in your “silent night, holy night” testimony.
I never heard such a testimony when I was young. I wish I had.
For Discussion: How has God acted as you have aged to draw you nearer to him?
For Action: When and how can you set up a time to share your “silent night, holy night” testimony with one or more of your grandchildren?
Mike Shaughnessy is the founder of Grandly