Proverbs 16:31, “The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness”
Like it or not, all of us are growing older! We are all aging and some even enjoy joking about aging. Someone made this observation: I find that one of the most disturbing aspects of aging is my growing inability to recall important information like the Greek alphabet, the gross national product of Lebanon, and where I left my glasses. This becomes particularly pronounced when I go upstairs to get something. Halfway up I realize that I have no inkling of what it is I’m going upstairs to get; so should I go back downstairs and try to remember what it is I needed, or should I continue up and look around for something that needs bringing down? Unable to decide, I resort to sitting on the landing, only to discover that after three minutes, I’ve completely forgotten whether I was originally upstairs going down, or downstairs going up! Well, I’m not sure that’s the way I would want to define growing old, but it does make a suggestion, and that is that older people who enjoy a sense of humor get along far better than those who don’t.
It’s a known fact that many people have a tremendous fear of growing older. Thus, cosmeticians have built multimillion dollar businesses telling people how to do it. Exercise enthusiasts have sold millions of dollars worth of books and equipment, showing people how to do it. Health food manufacturers have built huge businesses producing special foods that promise it, and genetic scientists are researching ways to prevent it. So, a great deal of activity during the working years is aimed at preventing as many of the problems of old age as possible. Some of these problems would be: (1) dependency on others, (2) lack of money, (3) boredom, (4) ill health, and, (5) many cultures seem to value young people more than the elderly. In some workplaces mandatory retirement policies restrict the number of years an employee is considered useful and productive. These types of problems often make mental and physical wrecks of people and they become old before their time.
Furthermore, believers in the Lord need not feel weak or unproductive as we grow older. God’s Word shows us that old age can have promise, productivity, vitality, confidence, and a great deal of happiness, providing that spiritual preparation has taken place during the younger years. Thus, the older one becomes as a believer in the Lord, the better life should become! Just as the fall season of the year is the time of abundant fruitfulness, so we should be able to say, “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). That certainly was true of the apostle Paul during his lifetime. During his years of service for the Lord, he faced many hardships, more so than what we face today; however, he recognized his human frailty and that “death is working in us” (2 Corinthians 4:12). Moreover, even as his body became weaker, his spirit became stronger. As he grew older physically, he also grew more vibrant spiritually. We need to ask ourselves if we are growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. (2 Peter 3:18). The psalmist wrote, “Those who are planted in the house of the LORD … shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing”
In the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon has some excellent advice for the youth of today. A young person can prepare now to have a happy old age. Thus, the way to happiness must be found in God’s Word and the first and foremost step is accepting His plan for your salvation. Then God’s route to joy and happiness is found in the Scriptures. In Psalms David charts a course that, when followed, leads to all the advantages we need in this world and life; advantages that can be ours no matter if we are rich or poor, healthy or sick, famous or unknown, young or old. My friend the way to happiness in our old age is marked by these signs:
(1) Seeking God, “I sought the LORD, and He heard me” (Psalm 34:4)
(2) Praising God, “My soul shall make its boast in the LORD” (Psalm 34:2)
(3) Fearing God, “Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints” (Psalm 34:9)
(4) Living for God, “Depart from evil and do good” (Psalm 34:14)
Have you ever noticed how true it is that “time flies when you’re having fun”? What is it about time that makes the worst of time drag by so slowly but yet, when we are filled with joy, are in love, are caught up in a work we value, are with people who are pleasant and outgoing, then time seems to have no meaning, no consequence, and hours can fly by as if an instance. A time-warp kind of being, when time means less than the people we are with, or the experience we are having. Most of us remember these times with great warmth, with a great desire that they should be repeated. However, do we feel the same way about growing old? The reality is that we are growing old every millisecond. How are we dealing with the reality? As we grow older, how easy it is to lose our sense of direction, a sense of vocation, a sense of God’s calling us to important things still to be done. Vocations are not just for the young starting out in marriage, a career, or religious life. “Rejoice, O young man!” “Find happiness when you are young.” Then you can carry your happiness around with you, the inner mental happiness found in the Word of God, a happiness which does not depend on conditions, circumstances, people, or the details of life. This leads to a marvelous old age! Thus, there’s nothing like the beauty of a loving heart shining through a seasoned face.
Lord, Thou knowest better than I myself that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all; but Thou knowest, Lord, that 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 love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cock-sureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet, for a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people; and give, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.
Isaiah 46:4, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you”