One day I was 34, then 63, then 75 still running around this world with little to slow me down giving almost no thought to the idea of growing older.
Truth is, the only thing I ever did to prepare for old age was to try to save a little money. Yet I did not spend time worrying about where I would live, who would take care of me when I became infirm, or would I even have enough money? If I thought of it at all, I just assumed that, when the time came, everything would fall into place. That’s me—the Optimistic Octogenarian, or the unrealistic octogenarian.
Then my world sort of caved in. My Cecil died, my sister fell apart, and I suffered a long continuing wrangle with the court, but the worst thing I did was to look in the mirror.
I have always contended that age is just a number, and I didn’t mind that the number increased each year. For, I insisted, “It’s what goes on in the mind and the heart that matters.” That’s what determines whether or not one is old.
I still believe that, but when you take a good long look in the mirror, and the gal, who was young and active yesterday, has been replaced by the image of an aging woman, it is impossible to deny the truth.
That aging face looked back at me, and I had to admit that the wrinkles are more pronounced, the step has slowed, the balance is not what it used to be, the joints are disintegrating, and I tire more easily these days.
I swear to you—this all happened overnight! I never saw it coming.
King Solomon, in Ecclesiastes, one of his poetic volumes, speaks about this aging process. Of course, being a poet, he refers to teeth as “grinders,” eyes as “windows,” and arms as “keepers of the house.”
Actually, in chapter 12, he is just saying, “Remember your Creator. Enjoy life while you can before your arms grow weak, your eyes grow dim, your teeth fall out, and your legs no longer work.”
I find myself laughing as I read Solomon’s words. I suppose it’s because I am beginning to see my own image in his description of this aging process.
Of course, this happens to everyone eventually.
We try to dress up “old age” to make it less formidable—to soften the blow. We refer to seniors as Seasoned and Time Honored. We talk about the autumn or winter or twilight of life, and we speak of them as being superannuated and venerable, but the best and the worst, I think, is the term “Golden Years.” While these waning years may be golden for some, they are certainly far from golden for the majority.
My amazing brother, who will celebrate his 90th birthday in November, still cleans his own large house and takes care of his own large yard. My brother who has been in ministry for seventy years, whom no one will believe is almost 90, has made a life-changing decision. He has decided to sell his house and move to an apartment—not a retirement facility. He is much too independent for that. He’s buying all new furniture. I guess that means he is not planning to check out any time soon. I love that because I am planning to keep him around forever.
In explaining his decision, he said something very wise. “I am doing this while I am still healthy—while I can still make all my own decisions.”
When I heard this, I thought of the Apostle Peter to whom Jesus said, in John 21:18—The Message, “When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old, you will have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you do not want to go.”
This is the case for far too many seniors
I am convinced that the way we live our “Golden Years” depends totally upon our relationship with God and the attitude with which we face life.
Solomon says, in Ecclesiastes 12:1, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come…”
“Before the difficult days come.” That is the secret! I know that I am writing to many younger people. Solomon’s advice is, “Think about God when you are young.” Make Him your life now.
When those senior years loom—when the difficult days come—no matter how difficult, God will be there for you. He will walk with you through the hard times. Actually, He will carry you.
Isaiah 46:3-4, The Message, “…I’ve been carrying you on my back from the day you were born, and I’ll keep on carrying you when you are old. I’ll be there, bearing you when you are old and gray. I’ve done it and will keep on doing it…” and that’s not all.
Psalm 92:12-14, “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree…they shall bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing…”
That’s what God wants for your life.
That’s the way I plan to live my “Golden Years.”
REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!