A Century of Faith: Embracing God’s Purpose in Every Season of Life

Living with my wife and I is an extraordinary centenarian, my mother-in-law, Joni. Despite her age, she still manages to inspire us with her spirit, her laughter, and the wisdom she carries from her lifetime of experiences.

Just recently, Joni divulged that she had spent an entire month studying the biblical book of Daniel. I was taken aback. One may wonder why a 100-year-old would dive into such a complex prophetic book, but it just goes to show that age is no barrier when it comes to seeking understanding from God’s Word.

However, Joni occasionally grapples with a poignant question, especially during her less-than-stellar days: “Why am I still here?” It’s a query that many of us may pose, especially when life takes its toll, or when we witness society’s moral decay and yearn for our heavenly home.

Nearly five decades ago, as a 20-year-old college student, I came across a profound insight that provides at least a partial answer to Joni’s question. This wisdom was gleaned from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a man of faith who found purpose and meaning amidst his incarceration by the Nazis. He wrote, “I sometimes feel that I am living just as long as I have something great to work for.”

That statement hit me like a lightning bolt and has since served as a constant reminder of our heavenly purpose: to contribute to the majestic unfolding of the gospel narrative.

Bonhoeffer was captured not for his secret involvement in a plot to overthrow Hitler but under the pretext of naivety, and spent his days in prison working on his book, “Ethics.” Despite the impending doom and the evil of the times, Bonhoeffer viewed his writing as an opportunity, a godly task he was spared to fulfill.

His conviction resonates deeply with me because it embodies the essence of Ephesians 2:10: we were all created in Christ Jesus for good works, prepared by God beforehand. We each have unique roles in advancing God’s magnificent, unassailable plan. Whether it’s Bonhoeffer penning his book, or Joni poring over Daniel’s prophecies, we all have our divine assignments.

However, Bonhoeffer was executed before he could finish his book. And in Joni’s case, she has outlived her ability to perform active works of service. This highlights the second reason why Bonhoeffer’s faith-filled statement impacts me profoundly. There’s a greater task at hand, one that remains no matter our circumstances – living for Christ Himself.

Despite not being able to complete his book, Bonhoeffer lived long enough to be an example of what it means to live for Christ. Similarly, even at 100, Joni has a purpose: to show us what it is to live for Christ amidst the physical frailty and weariness of this world.

Although I may not align fully with Bonhoeffer’s theological perspectives, his life story leaves an indelible impression. His demonstration of “the cost of discipleship” in such trying times gives his book its value. His choice to live and work for Christ in the face of evil is a testament to the power of faith.

Just like Bonhoeffer, Joni too is a living testimony. Her perseverance, even at 100, speaks volumes of her dedication to Christ. She may feel that her quiet days of prayer and Bible reading seem insignificant. But her story, a testament to seeking God’s kingdom and anticipating Christ’s return, resonates beyond the confines of her room.

While her physical ability may be limited, her spiritual influence is not. Her narrative has reached audiences far and wide, from China to Uganda to Cuba. She may need a walker, but her story runs marathons, inspiring generations to live for Christ. This, indeed, is something remarkable to work for.