PLYMOUTH – On September the 9th of this year I awoke and breathed in the air of this terrestrial globe for the 25,550th time. Yes, I hit that monumental and somewhat unenviable goal of living for seventy years. It is only unenviable because of the accelerated deterioration of my body and the ensuing challenges and difficulties it brings. Over these decades I replaced or repaired so many parts and appendages that I am not sure where the original me ends and the new and improved begins.
There have been times when my maturing condition has created an atmosphere that was conducive for anxiety and depression. It was during those times that I came to the realization that I must make a choice. Would I allow my physical condition to control my attitude, or would my attitude control my condition as a whole?
In my soul and spirit, I thought, felt, and viewed life as a 25-year-old young man. Every time I looked in a mirror, I had a very difficult time recognizing the reflection therein. “Who was that old guy staring back at me? That’s not me! I’m 25!”
The fact is, that no matter what we may try or believe, the aging process will continue and eventually our bodies will diminish and return to dust. Aging is inevitable but growing old is not.
The great theologian, Toby Keith (HA!) wrote a song that Willie Nelson made popular. The sentiment of the song is one from which I believe we could all benefit.
Don't let the old man in I wanna live some more Can't leave it up to him He's knocking on my door.
I knew all of my life That someday it would end Get up and go outside Don't let the old man in.
Many moons I have lived My body's weathered and worn Ask yourself how old you'd be If you didn't know the day you were born.
Try to love on your wife And stay close to your friends Toast each sundown with wine And don't let the old man in.
When he rides up on his horse And you feel that cold bitter wind Look out your window and smile And don't let the old man in.
It truly is a choice. As I said previously, aging is inevitable, but growing old is not. We don’t have to let the old man in! This is true in our physical life, but even more so in our spiritual life.
Every day it is a choice as to whether we are going to walk in the Spirit or in the flesh, and my friends, the battle is real! How I act or react in most of my interactions and conversations is the direct result of the choice I make concerning Who will be in control of my life. I believe with all my heart that “Any person in Christ is a new creation. Old things pass away, Behold, all things have become new.” Yet, until our body is finally redeemed and in the presence of our Lord, we will battle with the pull of the “flesh”, that is, the Old Man.
In the next few weeks there will be much discussion and interaction about monumental decisions that will be made at our upcoming Annual Meeting of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan (BSCM). These discussions and the exchange of information are absolutely necessary for this family of believers to make wise, and God-directed decisions. But what matters most is the decision we make before our gathering together for deliberation. We all must come to a point where we decide if we are going to let the Old Man in and allow him to control our actions and attitudes, or will we allow the Spirit of God to have His way?
Before you write anything on social media, in an email, or voice in any public forum, please ask yourself if these are the responses of a person controlled by the Spirit of God or by the old man and the flesh. The world is watching and listening. May they see and hear a godly people living a Spirit controlled life where they have chosen to not let the old man in.
But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
Colossians 3:9-10 
 The New King James Version. (1982). (Col 3:8–12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.