Bethesda Senior Living Communities is a faith-based organization. We have a heart for the Lord and for service to all the residents in our care. While you don't need to be someone of a certain faith to choose to make one of our communities your home, we do have many residents who are Christian and profess a heart for the Lord.
But what does it mean to be a senior with a heart for God? We explore that concept below to find out what the Bible has to say and how that might impact seniors living a faith-based lifestyle in or out of an assisted living community.
Longtime seniors of faith know that the Bible talks about the heart a lot. Here are just a few verses you might recognize about the heart:
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Psalm 3:5-6
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." Matthew 22:37
You might know, then, that the Bible says the heart alone isn't to be trusted. It leads you astray if you're not tuning in to the Spirit of God in your life. At the same time, we're supposed to love God and trust him with all of our heart.
But the Hebrew concept of heart—which is at the center of many of these verses—is not the same as our modern concept of heart.
Ask someone today what "heart" means, and they might give any of the answers below:
• It's a symbol of romantic or other types of love
• It's an organ that pumps blood in the body
• It's the metaphorical place from which someone's emotions stem
• It's the metaphorical place from which someone's tenacity comes from (as in, "He was small, but he had heart.")
But the Biblical concept of heart is much more than any of those. When the Bible talks about the heart, it's often in reference to the center or very being of the person—the thoughts, ideas and other factors that rule the person. It's how the person makes decisions, but also their character and personality.
So when the Bible says your heart will lead you astray, it's not really saying you'll get emotional and go off and make bad decisions. It's saying that the innate you—the core of your mental character—will make bad decisions if you're not tied to the Holy Spirit.
And when the Bible says to trust and love God with all your heart, it's not talking about a romantic kind of love affair or even an emotional worship experience. It's telling you to give your whole self to God and love and trust him as a logical choice with your mind and the very core of your being.
It's easy to "love God with all your heart" in an emotional, all-encompassing way when you're first saved. But living on that mountain is impossible. We're simply not created physically or mentally on this side of Heaven to ride that wave consistently for our lives.
So, if you're a senior of faith who has walked with Jesus for a length of time, you may find that you don't have as many—or sometimes any—"emotional" worship experiences. It's also completely possible, no matter how long you've been a Christian, that you never experience those emotional worship moments that others do. And that's okay—every personality is different, and loving God with all your heart in this context isn't necessarily emotional!
At the same time, the Bible also warns of types of "bad" hearts. Embittered, stubborn, deceitful, erroneous, hardened, proud and idolatrous are all words the Bible uses to describe hearts that are not in step with God.
Unfortunately, these are things the world tends to create in people. Go too long in an unfortunate situation or dealing with pain, for example, and you can be embittered. Dislike the change going on around you in the world, and you can begin to be stubborn. These are things all people of any age may deal with, including seniors.
Some ways to avoid hardening your heart or otherwise turning away from God can include surrounding yourself with people of faith, attending Bible study and worship and choosing a lifestyle that allows you to be comfortable and attend to your own needs so that you can also serve others. These are the types of things that are options for seniors who choose to make their homes in faith-based assisted living communities such as those under the Bethesda Senior Living Communities umbrella.