As we age, our bodies start to break down and now that I have reached the still ripening age of 68, I feel that I am now somewhat an authority in such matters. I have been occasionally selling the notion to peers (who are usually older than me) that I am a “newly-old,” However, before long the “newly” will fade away and I will just be “old.” I really started noticing changes in my physical abilities in mid fifties. It was during this time when my son and I visited Six Flags amusement park near Kansas City. Roller-coasters were always a lot of fun to me but now, I could hardly stand all the serious buffeting and jostling, especially on the wooden roller-coaster. As we left the park, I told my son that I thought it would have been a better deal to just have someone beat me up for ten bucks.
Also, earlier in life, I had grown used to being sore from some sort of physical activity the following day. But now, I was experiencing soreness in my back and other places while I was still engaged in the activity. Now I am at the point where I am reminded daily that my spacesuit, which has served me well for years, is breaking down and that my lifespan is dwindling away at a seemingly faster rate. Also, now when I hear the names of people facing death or have died, I actually know them, because they are (or were) my contemporaries.
Yet, when viewing aging through the lens of God’s Plan, I find that contained within the aches and pains of aging is a blessing. The blessing comes in the form of a “daily reminder” that we are mortal and that time is running out to find answers to the often neglected, larger issues and questions of life. Old age is a special time to think about life in a broader perspective, prompting us to seek answers to questions, like:
What is the meaning of life?
Do we have a Creator? If so, what does He want from us?
Is there life after death?
And in the end, what is really important?
For many people, these questions pop up earlier in life but oftentimes, they are put on a “back burner” in favor of what we consider more important issues of the day such as education, careers and relationships. During that time, with bodies both strong and sturdy, death seems like as likely as being struck by lightning. So, in general, younger people are more all about me and as one ages, the sparkly “me” soon becomes somewhat tarnished. But along with aging, through experience hopefully some wisdom has been gained while experiencing life, a life that now whispers, “Your time is coming.”
One of the things that God hates is pride, the kind of pride where one is so self-absorbed they don’t have anything left of themselves for God. God hates pride because it is the wall that keeps people from fulfilling their purpose of eternal fellowship as part of God’s family. Consider the humility of Jesus. Who knows what kind of body He had and what His surroundings looked like before He came to earth. But it had to be pretty humbling to go from the splendor and complete morality of Heaven, to a cursed place of evil and exchange His former (perfect) physical body for a much older model. So, like Him, we are required to seek God in humility. Nobody should approach the saving cross of Christ with their chin up in the air like they are thinking “Boy, God is so fortunate to have me.” No, when the weight of the reality of our moral standing compared with God’s hits us, then we are getting closer to a right heart attitude that will enable us to find God.
So, as you are reminded daily that you getting older take the time to consider life and what’s next. Wouldn’t you like to meet your Creator and be adopted into His family? That is the offer on your life’s table; you can take it or leave it. Your Creator, you know, the One that loved you so much that He sent His Only Son to pay the penalty for your sins? It is yours free just for the asking. Do it today while you can. Because the clock is ticking and we never know what a day will bring. And it seems that death, the unwelcome visitor, always comes ready or not.
P.S. Frankly, the subject of a dwindling lifespan is a morose topic for many people. I would like to lighten the gloom a bit with this thought. It is a huge blessing if you have reached a ripe age and have NOT known abject poverty, homelessness or hunger. In addition, if you have experienced loving relationships with family and friends, you are truly blessed. I consider that all the blessings in my life (so far) are locked in a vault so to speak and untouchable even from calamity. History has shown that disasters (both natural and man caused) can strike without warning and totally upend what we consider normal (Consider Europe during WWII). If changes like this do come, they would not affect the past blessings we have already enjoyed. As we age, I think it is good to focus on those positive things we have enjoyed rather than marinate in the self pity of our dwindling abilities and life. So much of life is in how we view it. We may not be able to change the picture that our lives have rendered, but we can control how we frame it. So, consider your days and count your blessings. Merry Christmas!