When I graduated college at twenty-four years old with a husband and a toddler, I felt so old. Shouldn’t I have been finished by twenty-two? Apparently you don’t age dramatically between twenty-two and twenty-four, as I had imagined. As a young wife and mother, the timing was perfect for me and my family situation.
When I was told in my mid-twenties that you should have all your children before the age of thirty-five, that made sense because who would have babies when they were that old? Apparently I would. I delivered my three youngest children when I was thirty-five, thirty-seven, and thirty-nine. (Whoever decided on the label AMA — Advanced Maternal Age — for thirty-five-year-old pregnant women might have needed a course on sensitivity training in medical school.) My life would look radically different without those sweet blessings that joined our family when I was past the recommended age.
When I imagined my life beyond raising our eight children, I thought I would be too old to offer anything to the world, that I would be obsolete. Apparently those life experiences have given me something to say because I published my first book at age forty-nine and will have published six by the time I turn fifty-five next March. Sometimes it’s the knowledge we gain with time that fills our resume.
When my friend and her siblings grew up and left home, her mother decided to go to law school after years as a legal secretary. She graduated from law school and won the American Jurisprudence Award at fifty-one while working full-time, and now, at seventy-eight years old, she travels the country as a successful attorney who has worked in corporate law for over twenty years. She says, “People who think that life is over are just looking in the rearview mirror. If you have a voice and a choice, you have power.“ Apparently time doesn’t have to keep you from fulfilling your career goals.
When a friend of mine was in college, she failed algebra three times. Embarrassed by it, she labeled herself “bad at math.” At age forty, she started tutoring a class of eighth-graders one day a week, which included introductory algebra. She took it one lesson one week at a time, and as she recalls, “At forty, I had more patience, focus, and determination. I was no longer embarrassed about what I didn’t know or how I was going to measure up against anyone. I wanted to master it.” Apparently time and maturity can improve our desire to learn, our willingness to tackle new things, and our ability to understand some subjects.
When Sarah was ninety years old, God fulfilled the covenant He made with her husband Abraham, and she conceived her first child. Sarah had been so disappointed in her inability to produce an heir that fourteen years earlier she had offered her handmaid Hagar to Abraham, and Ishmael was born. Now, in her old age, Sarah was transformed from barren to blessed. Apparently, God’s promises can transcend expectation or reason. Do you have a dream that defies traditional logic? Entrust it to God.
I will bless her; indeed, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she will produce nations; kings of peoples will come from her.
Genesis 17:16 (CSB)
Here’s the good news, friend: there’s no such thing as being too old to make a difference. There isn’t a perfect age to pursue dreams like having a child, finishing school, writing a book, or launching a career.
Don’t believe the lie that you’re too old to make a difference or that your time has passed. God’s plans and purposes for our lives don’t come with expiration dates. Let the knowledge and experience you gain in this life stage be the fuel that feeds the next as you pursue God and His will for you.
Was there a time when you believed your time had passed,
but the Lord had different plans for you?
Your message brought tears to my eyes. I’m 55 and have worked in corporate America my entire adult life. I have grown tremendously and God has provided generously through that work. It is also very draining. I have teetered with creating an exit strategy, but if honest I wasn’t confident that I had time or energy to do something different. Your message has given me renewed hope and certainly rejuvenated those thoughts of potential. Thank you !
Dawn Camp says
Yay, Kim! I can’t wait to hear about what you choose to pursue. You can do it!
Michele Morin says
Hauling my creaky self up onto a chair and standing tall to applaud your thinking here, Dawn! There’s no expiration date on our usefulness to God!
Dawn Camp says
Ha, Michele! I love this visual. We don’t come with expiration dates, sister!
Robin Dance says
I LOVE THIS POST, DAWN!! Yes! Let’s hear it for the gals whom God is still working in and through, who’ve gained a wealth of experience, who continue to follow hard in His wake, who are doing good in their respective worlds! This post embodies the heart of how I (try to) champion the women in my life, but also what I need to hear at times. Thank you for penning strong words of encouragement, for reminding old and young of what is possible. I wrote my first book at 55 (and launched it when I was closer to 57), and I feel like I’m just getting started in some ways.
Endings of one thing make space for the beginnings of another <3. (love you!)
Yes!!! Amen to that x
Dawn Camp says
Robin, there’s a post I’ve meant to write for years about how Frank Sinatra had become a little passé but then he jumped back into the swing of things (bad pun intended), redefined himself (I think his children were teens?), and topped the charts again. Here’s to new life and new inspirations!
Trina Rich says
Dawn, thank you for your message. I will be 62 in a couple of months and still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up! I know where my talents lie, however, I have prayed to God to give me strength and the impetus to do something. I have had my husband die, my father die and my only child to be caught up in her own world. I feel lonely and feel I am not contributing enough. You are an inspiration. God bless you and to Kim above I pray for your exit strategy!
Hi Trina, I will pray for you. At 72 I am going through similar situations. God has a plan for the rest of our lives. Maybe there is some way we can share emails. God bless you and draw you near.
At 64 I feel similarly… caregiving and passing of a parent, the resulting distancing of family who left it to me to deal with it as they were busy in their own lives, has now left me alone. I’m reaching out to the Lord to find my new beginning and trying to pray for but not cling to family that doesn’t have time for a single, older family member.
It’s scary and challenging… but our God is always with us in each new adventure. He plans for all of our life, not just the “younger” times.
Praying for you best that is yet to come!!
Dawn Camp says
God bless you, Trina, as you discover what God is calling you to do!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
God is so gracious. He gave me a new lease on life when I was fifty. Having come through a long drawn-out divorce, sidelined by major surgery, I returned to my love of writing and started my own blog (Walking Well With God). A young Christian halfway around the globe in a Middle Eastern country that persecutes Christians, reached out to me and a dialogue began. He had, on his own, started a homeschool for orphaned and impoverished children in his country. Here we are eight years later and we have 80 students. We offer hope where there was once only despair. We stand tall in the fight against child slave labor, human trafficking, and most recently, young Christian girls being abducted, raped, forced to marry and convert to Islam against their will, and there is no support for them in the judicial system. We dare to go where others won’t in order to transform lives and bring glory to God. I never in a million years would have imagined this happening at this age. I figure that by 80, I’ll just be coming into my prime years. Terrific post!
What a beautiful testimony, Bev! Inspiring!
Dawn Camp says
I love this, Bev! You are making a difference in the world. Can’t wait to see what’s happening at 80!
Thank you Dawn 🙂
Liz Giertz says
This resonates deeply for me. As an Army wife living in Colorado at the time, God planted a dream of opening a brick and mortar DIY store in my heart. But moving every 2-3 years doesn’t exactly support such an endeavor. Now, ten years later, we’re living somewhere we never would have chosen but turned out to perfect for us, my husband has retired, and I’m about to celebrate the one year anniversary of my store front! And I’m so glad my dream didn’t happen right away, because I’ve learned so much in these last 10 years!! <3
Lynn D says
Dawn, I am 66, my husband is 75 and he just told me he feels called to full time ministry. I asked if that meant becoming a pastor but he said no. As we prayed, The Lord told us not to define our future based on our past. he has new things for us. For us, John and Lynn, Dad and Mom, Papa and Yaya! He is going to add new titles, new names to our resume. And while we were trying to figure out if retirement is in the future (we both currently work secular jobs) God is working out something new. Retirement is not in the Bible, so we move forward into our new season with slightly anxious but curious hearts. No rear view mirror for us!
I don’t even know how to start a response- it’s crazy. I’ve frustrated, feeling like my time has passed .. God put it in my heart to complete a Masters in a Peace and Conflict Studies at 38. I completed this in two years with 3 kids and working. At 39 God provided an internship with a peace building organisation in Cambodia which was part of my Masters but we had to network and find it ourselves.
It was honestly a magnificent manifestation of a Gods handy work. I completed my final thesis and was supposed to graduate on Saturday but it was canceled again due to covid. I will graduate in absentia. Since then God provides a role in procurement with the University which has put food on our table.
My heart yearns for more. I doubted myself at times the whole way through but God moves in such a grand way I knew this was his plan for me. I feel guilty wanting a role where I can help people meanwhile the rest of the world is fighting various stages of this pandemic.
I’m taking your message as if it were written for me. I guiltily hope God moves again and opens a door to show me what his next step in for my life… I’m will be 41 at the end of this year…
Thanks 🙂 I recently had to let go of a life-long dream, and am now “starting over” in a new degree, new city, new job, etc. This reminder comes at a great time ❤️
Thank you for this article. I’m 65, working full time and not sure what to do about “retirement”. Although I love my job and coworkers in a ministry, I also feel ready for a change. I’m planning to dip my foot in the water and start working just 4 days a week at my next birthday. But still no idea of what to do with that free day (and new beginning!) Yesterday I got a possible glimmering…doing arts/crafts with a friend’s kids who will be homeschooled this year. I’m single, so there are no grandkids in the picture…praying that the Lord will open new doors for me! After years of limiting myself to crafts, I finally took an art class at the age of 58, (stopped listening to the voice of my discouraging 8th grade art teacher!) which opened up new worlds 🙂 and I think I’d like to pursue doing something with that talent. Reading this and the comments has encouraged me to keep praying and dreaming!
Cathy Lukesh says
Thank you for this! I am 72 and have been a kindergarten teacher for 40 years. I took a leave of absence this year because of covid. I couldn’t bear the chance of bringing it home to my husband, sister and precious new grandson. My principal announced to the other teachers that I would be returning next year. I don’t feel God is finished with me yet. I still get excited when my fellow kindy teacher wants me to help her get things ready for her classroom. Some people can’t believe I’m not retiring. I needed to hear this devotion because my desire is to keep moving forward if that’s God’s plan!
I was involved with a ministry for many years. I lived and breathed it while working full time. I called it My God Job. I never thought there would be a time that I wasn’t doing it. Then some different procedures and policies were instituted and because I couldn’t commit to phone calls during the day I had to let it go. It really stung! Eventually I grew to understand that some things are only for a season.
I now have been in a different season of life for almost 6 years after that same job above ended quite unexpectedly that led to early retirement…
It ended up being the biggest blessing! It gave me time to recharge after working many long days, work on things at home, be with my elderly mother and a sweet sister in law (who has now gone to Glory), watch my grand every day and so much more! Maybe some of these are now My God Jobs?!
I am growing older my the minute (boy, does time fly!) and thanking God for His hand on my life and His perfect timing!
Subi Wilks says
Thank you so much for this post, Dawn. I was having a whole muddle of feelings this morning when I opened my banking app and saw that my first Old Age Security cheque had been deposited. I had been working at a stimulating job, not thinking of retiring, until COVID-19 took that job away, probably permanently. Is that it for me? What do I do now? I will take your encouragement and smile at the future.
I really needed to read this today – because I forget! I raised my 5 children and in 2007 I got my Master’s degree – I graduated on the same day my youngest got her Bachelor’s. I was so proud – I always wanted to continue my education and things finally fell into place (Thank you God) to make it possible. Now as I turn 69 next month I’m picking up a paint brush for the first time in over 35 years. I’m so excited while getting my Art Corner ready I’m like a little kid! I don’t plan on stopping growing until maybe 95 – then I’ll take a break! God Bless you Dawn.
thanks for your note. I am considering going back to school for a Masters degree in the spring. I am scared to death but it has been a lifelong dream and now that my youngest is in college, I feel it could be the right time. But what if I fail, its too hard, my family goes through another crisis? How can I find a way to do this for myself and still be present for my family?
Kimberly, I did it totally online, one class at a time and it took 3 years but the pace and not being in class with 20 somethings helped me. Things will happen – but you’ll figure it out – I had a house fire and finished my last semester on a borrowed laptop from a rented apartment while my house was being rebuilt. and someone reminded me – you can always take a semester off and then resume the next term..one class at a time and you’re there. Give it a try!
Kimberly, that is exciting! You can be at peace knowing that if it is the Lord’s will for you, He will make the right doors open. Don’t let your “what-ifs” cripple you from moving forward. Only God can tell the future, but if you seek Him first, He will reveal His plan and will illuminate the right steps in your path. Where God guides, He is faithful to provide.
Thank you so much for this! It spoke to my heart and is so encouraging to me!!
Hello everyone. Thank you for all your encouraging messages.
It was about a couple of days ago that I was figuring out when to go back to school to take my PhD. I’m 57 works full time as a Nurse Practitioner at a very busy county hospital.. working with COVID positive patients and non COVID as well. Lots of loans but I believe that if it’s God’s will for me to pursue my dream, He will provide.
Thanks Dawn for this remarkable and encouraging post.
Stay safe everyone.
God is faithful,
This is very inspiring Dawn thank-you so much for your encouragement.
Blessings to all,
Thank you Dawn, I really enjoy your posts. I have a Granddaughter who just had her first baby at 46 years of age and she is so happy she said he is a gift from God. I walk with a walker and it is hard to get around so I stay in most of the time. Friends send me E-mail Prayer requests and ask me to Pray for them. God is good to answer Prayer.
Becky Keife says
Dawn, this is so encouraging!! I love the idea that there are no expiration dates on the new, good, exciting, and fruitful things God has planned for us. xx
Lauren Griesmeyer says
Thanks for encouraging and inspiring me! Keep up the good work! I’ve sometimes believed my life was over at 57…….but thanks for reminding me that that’s a lie! Here’s to more fruitful years! Love in Him……Lauren
Roselyn Young says
Dawn, I love this!!! Thank you!!! I am 64 and at 50 I retired from leading worship and choir, which I had done most of my life. Just sang in my choir there and filled in for the current music pastor when He was out. At 52, I got a call from another nearby church to come and fill in until they could find another keyboard musician and worship leader and choir director. I finally agreed to do it 3 months. They never even looked for another person. My husband and I have been leading their worship and choir for 12 years now. I really thought I was too old. But God led me to a church with a large percentage of older people my age. You just never know. When you have a calling on your life, you can always find a place to minister at any age!!!
Roxanne P says
Thank you so much for writing this at this time. I really needed to hear this. I will read it over and over.
Dawn, I can’t thank you enough for this post. When I read the title in my inbox, my heart hoped like crazy this post contained the message I thought it did. It’s a message I desperately needed. Lately, I’ve been trying to fight off feelings that I’ve “missed my moment.” I’ve had many dreams that for one reason or the other I’ve failed to work on. Now, years later, I feel at least one or two of them resurfacing with significant strength in my heart. Yet, I look at my life and wonder when or how I’ll ever be able to work to accomplish them. I’ve been feeling like windows and doors have closed around me, even though I simultaneously feel like I have the most stories to tell. So, I took your post to heart today. Praying for God’s perfect timing and hoping I haven’t missed my opportunity to pursue these dreams that won’t leave my heart.
Dawn Camp says
Monica, do not give up on your dreams! I’m praying for you this evening.
Beth Williams says
Your post will inspire many many women not to give up because of age. Vera Wang didn’t open her first bridal boutique till she was 40. Julia Child didn’t learn to cook till 36. They call us “late bloomers”. That is alright with me. You see with time comes education. The kind of education that can only be gained by living life. I never thought I would work in medicine. After dealing with my aging parents’ dementia & health issues I find I have a wealth of wisdom to offer. God has seen fit to put me part time in ICU Step down clerical at a large hospital. My experience allows me to relate so well to the patients & their families. I understand what they are going through. I say it is never to late to start over. Pray about your situation & see what God has to say. You may be surprised.
The older we get the more we have to offer. We can become mentors to young women, work in nursery, teach Sunday school. There is a whole world out there waiting for you to use your talents.
Dawn Camp says
Here’s to late bloomers! Beth, this is so encouraging. Thank you!
With my mouth slightly opened just waiting for me to speak, I am speechless. I honestly don’t know what to say other than this word was so for me today. I have to print this out; frame it, hang it, carry it in my purse or whatever, just so that I might be reminded, that even at the age of 54, God is NOT done with me yet! Thank you for allowing God to use you to give an in-season word in such a difficult season in both our natural and spiritual worlds. Be blessed!
Dawn Camp says
Tammy, we’re the same age! God has plenty of time to work in us and through us. Be encouraged!