I took a seat at my assigned table for my first Bible study at our new church and was surprised to see a number of gray and white heads dotted among the tables. I wondered, what would it be like to study alongside women who were 20, 30, or more years older than I? Up until this point, my close friendships consisted of almost exclusively people in or near my stage of life.

As I’ve aged, I noticed that surrounding myself with people of my own generation is like living with tunnel vision. I could sense I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Of course, I had read Titus 2:3, which instructs older women to teach and train younger women in what is good, and that’s what I wanted! But I had little idea what this might actually look like in my real life.

Today, I am privileged to have friendships with women who live out the example of Titus 2 that I’ve longed to see. And it is not their own brilliance or expertise that shines, but the way they lift my eyes from the false hope of self-focus to behold what is truly good—Jesus Christ.

Humility at every age

Each week, friends with decades of experience following Jesus put on a posture of humility as they engage with our group and with God’s Word, and in doing so have taught me more than any lesson plan could.

More mature saints could seek a superior position among our group and dish out a pat answer or piece of advice for each of our concerns, but instead, we all confess sin, learn new things, and grow together. This has paved the way for unity among women who otherwise might not look like we have much in common.

What a reminder— the beautiful reality that the entire Christian life is about joyfully seeking greater submission to Jesus. Their lives are a picture of the very humility of Christ as described in Philippians 2, to be unified in love, and “count others more significant than yourselves.”

As I look ahead to my next decade, I want what these women have shown me: a heart open and tender to Jesus and others, and an eagerness for the kind of sanctifying change only the Spirit, through His Word, can give, for as long as we have breath.

Fruitfulness at every age

As I approach 40, with arms full of home and motherhood responsibilities, it is easy to believe that I am running out of time to do something that matters. Then I walk my son to his Sunday morning class to see a group of volunteers, including several older saints. Or I hear of a women’s group who meets regularly to pray for our church.

These saints are running the race set before them well, because they have the end in sight— not an easy retirement or earthly acclaim, but eternity with Jesus. Their lives are focused on what is ahead, and so they “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14).

As we age, we can succumb to bitterness and entitlement, believing the good old days are behind us and demanding younger generations owe us something, or we can enter the later years of life and the realities of aging knowing the best is yet to come. When the hope of heaven is real, as I have witnessed in the hearts of these dear friends, our lives cannot help but overflow into fruitfulness in every season.

Faithfulness at every age

When I walk into church on a Sunday morning, and sing out “He will hold me fast,” alongside men and women from different generations, the weight of these words means something very different in light of their stories. I am a witness to what it looks like to walk faithfully when the unthinkable happens: losing a spouse, watching a child wander from the faith, facing an irreversible diagnosis, or enduring the long drumbeat of disappointment that life has not gone according to plan.

They have faced some of the very things I fear most in life, and yet show me what it looks like to keep trusting Christ. And they do not try to pretend to do it perfectly. More than their wisdom or experience, it is their testimony of God’s faithfulness that means the most to me. I can’t get enough of it. I am still young and keenly aware of how much life is still ahead. I can choose anxiety and fear and yearn for control, or I can remember that the Jesus who has sustained these brothers and sisters is the same Jesus I trust.

The testimony of God’s faithfulness passed from generation to generation is an irreplaceable encouragement to the church. The author of Hebrews writes, “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb.12:1-2a).

What a gift, that there are members of this great cloud of witnesses right here, worshiping alongside me in church. My older sister-friends know the world I face is different than the one in which they have walked, yet the span of years is not a hindrance, but an invitation, to lift my eyes to the One who never changes.

Do you have intergenerational friendships with women of the faith? How might these friendships help encourage your trust in Jesus?

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Amanda Duvall

Amanda Duvall is a wife and mother who loves to write and serve her church, Naperville Presbyterian Church. Before living in Chicago, she worked in government, politics and public relations, and she still has a passion for the intersection of work, faith and the public square.