(Excerpt from Ch. "My View from the Summit"
“Me—still me!” That was the caption on a “Pro-Life” poster with two pictures. It got my attention because although arresting and true, it seemed incomplete. In the first frame was the photo of a pre-born fetus; in the second was a cute, smiling toddler. The point was, even in a fetal stage it was an identifiable human being. True.
Nevertheless, I wished there had been a third photo of an inwardly beautiful elderly person. In fact, the third picture—which wasn't there—is the identity which is often stolen or lost or denied. The elderly are the same persons of worth who once were in the bloom and energy of youth and prime of life.
I am told to beware these days of “Identity Thieves.” They lurk around in unsuspecting places and devise ways to pounce on my Social Security number, bank statement, credit card data, and scraps of paper on which I innocently reveal who I am and what is of value to me. It seems that when people are in the senior season of their lives, they are more vulnerable to having their identity stolen.
Is it considerate for someone to ask a person in advanced years, “Who did you used to be?” intimating, however unintentionally, that he or she is not identifiable or of value now because he or she is no longer engaged in what may have been his career. Age doesn't make us past tense. My real identity at the core of my inward life can never be stolen, nor can I lose it. If I have retired from my lifelong occupation, I haven't regressed to become a nonentity. My spirit doesn't age and it is continually renewable.
Those of us in our advanced years need to maintain our self-esteem with gratitude to God for who we have become. He has been working on me for a lifetime conforming and transforming me into the image of Christ through all the ups and downs that have shaped me. Roles in life may come and go, but I am a unique person known and loved by God, distinct from all others, unduplicatable, uncloneable. I am a sheep that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, calls by name and I answer to it. It wouldn't matter if my name was Jane Doe and there were a million other Jane Doe's throughout history; my particular identity would be secure.
In fact, even if I may not know who I really am as to my genealogy, God knows. What's more, I expect to be still me and uniquely identifiable in the Life after Life throughout all Eternity. No “Identity Thieves” are allowed in the Courts of Heaven, and no longer will anyone question me about my identity. The Scriptures promise that in “The Father's House,” as Jesus called Heaven, “we shall know as we are known.”
That must mean that no one there will ask for my I.D. Does it follow that I will know everyone else--and they will know me--without being introduced? Fascinating!