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'Full of grace and gratitude'

Delightful book about finding peace and purpose in a long life, alongside one with advice for bringing up children

Rich in Years250Rich in Years
By Johann Christoph Arnold
Plough Publishing 
ISBN: 978-0-87486-898-2
Their Name is Today
By Johann Christoph Arnold
Plough Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-87486-612-4
Reviewed by David Stuckey

Johann Christoph Arnold is a new name to me but a welcome one. Having recently come to terms with being ‘rich in years’ myself, I found this slim book to be a delight. To discover how other people handle getting older is engaging and enlightening.

Rich in Years contains interviews with those of a certain age; it is subtitled Finding Peace and Purpose in a Long Life – and he has interviewed a number of folk who have discovered that for themselves.
Old age creeps up on everyone, he suggests. In my case it seemed to hit me suddenly when I passed 70, but still …I can confirm that love and laughter is the best tonic especially when forgetfulness strikes – but more crippling is regret  (“I wish I’d lived my life differently. I wish I’d been more successful”)
The best way to deal with regrets, he says, is to accept God’s grace as we face the future. With gratitude for the life we’ve led comes realisation of how exciting our senior years can be. And with that realisation comes peace of mind.
Their Name is Today focuses on the opposite end of the spectrum; its sub-title is Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World. It’s easy to be pessimistic of the future in this day and age but Arnold argues for a positive response to the myriad distractions children have to face in our modern society.

And the best way to keep young minds focused on what really matters? “We need to believe in them”, he says and this book is full of timely warnings and advice.
As a couple, we’ve learnt to count our blessings – our grandchildren, more time to enjoy the concert hall, the theatre, time to reconnect with long-neglected friends.

“We all find ways to play the hand life has dealt us” says Johann, “and we should not neglect the opportunity. The moment you relate to God, thank him for your existence, for loving you … you gain a beautiful heavenly relationship – and real peace of mind.”
There is a lot of common sense Johann’s writings. Rich in Years does not simply mean older – it means full of grace and gratitude. Their Name is Today is a warning we should heed. Thanks to Johann and his interviewees for spelling it out so clearly.

David Stuckey is a journalist and member of Maghull Baptist Church

Baptist Times, 14/08/2015
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