Look again and see if you detect a bit of dismay and maybe even a tad of self pity when Moses wrote, “The days of our years are three-score and ten; and if by reason of strength, they be four score years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly away” (Psalms 90:10).
When we are young we never think of ‘old age’. We are, independent, healthy and strong. Yet, in this morning’s paper, I saw two listed in the obituary column. They were teenagers. Measure the tombs in the cemetery – anybody can die!
On the other hand, the Bible points out the glory in old age. Listen to Solomon who writes, “A hoary head is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. The glory of young men is their strength, but the beauty of old men is their grey hair” (Proverbs 16:31; 20:29). Is the Bible wrong? Is their something to be gained in growing old? Age is not something we can avoid (as if that were possible) but a time of mellowing and ripening into a beautiful much-to-be-desired) part of life. After a visit, I hugged our eldest son and was rather astonished by how broad his shoulders, thick his hands, and strong his back was. I’m 80 soon and he will be sixty soon. Time is like a roll of toilet paper. The more you use, the more you need, and the smaller the roll the faster it goes.
Here are some hints about growing old as time goes by.
THINK ON GOOD THINGS. Fill your heart and mind with positives images. The on-going pains, discomforts, doctor’s appointment, the has-beens, the what-if’s, the price of gas and the relief of the same, could be replaced by the words of the apostle Paul, “Finally, whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think on these things” (Philippians 4:8 – NIV).
RECOGNIZE SOME THINGS ARE CHANGEABLE – OTHERS ARE NOT. We have all seen the card that says, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but how we react to what happens; Not by what life brings to us but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive outlook causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst . . . a spark that creates “Extraordinary results” at an extraordinary age.
LET GOD TAKE CONTROL. A FULL 8X10 PIECE OF PAPER FACES US EACH MORNING. It is on our 20 year old refrigerator. “Good Morning. This is God. I’ll be handling ALL your problems today. I will not need your help . . . so have a great day.” When prayers are offered and burdens are taken to the Lord. I must learn (and it can be learned) to leave them with God. Simon Peter correctly admonished, “Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7).
Years ago, I read a reprint from the Elk-a-seltzer. Let me share it with you now.
“Lord, Thou knoweth better than I know myself that I am getting older and some day will be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject on every occasion. Release me from the craving to try to straighten out everybody’s affair. Make me thoughtful but not critical, helpful but not bossy; with my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it all. But thou knoweth Lord, I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details . . . give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing and the love of rehearsing them is becoming ‘sweeter as the years go by’. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience. I dare not ask for an improved memory but for a growing humility and a lessoning cocksureness when my memories seem to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.
Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a saint. Some of them are so hard to live with . . . but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people. Give me the grace to tell them so.”
Recently I checked on my wife’s hearing. Standing a good way off I said, “Darling, can you hear me?” No response. I moved closer. Tried again. No response. I moved next to her ear and said, “Darling, can you hear me? She turned and said, “For the third time, YES!!” I went downtown and bought my earphones.