LIFE AS A 73-YEAR OLD

I’m trying not to let it get me down. It’s hard to get back up. My train of thought often leaves the station before I do. And my memory is not as sharp as it used to be, and neither is my memory. Like somebody said, so far this is the oldest I’ve been.

My brother-in-law asked if I wished I were younger. I love this season. I have  experience, which should amount for something. I have learned from mistakes, well some of them. Here’s why I like getting older. But first a couple negatives:

 

  1. The knees are not working like they used to. That slows me down.
  2. Total recall is a thing of the past. Used to be good at names. Forget that. But it’s okay, because I can’t hear as much anyway.

More positives:

  1. My children still look to me and Karen. I may be wiser in my old age.
  2. Legacy. Generations of righteousness adds up. So thankful for those who preceded me.
  3. Mentoring is a joy. I love giving away what God has put in my heart.
  4. People sometimes expect less and hopefully we can surprise them and give them more.
  5. The Biblical culture favors age over youth.
  6. I can still exercise. My kids push me, so I push them.

Jeremiah was lamenting the fall of Jerusalem and the judgment of God upon the disobedient nation. It was a sad day in Israel when “elders are shown no respect” (Lam. 5:12) and “the elders are gone from the city gate” (14). One of the curses for disobedience Moses reviewed with the nation about to enter the Promised Land was that God would send them “a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young” (Deut. 28:50).

Fears sometime accompany the journey into old age: “Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone” (Psalm 71:9). But God promises: “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” (Isaiah 46:4). Our society and our families should take their cue regarding care for the elderly from the Ancient of Days. He does not ignore them in their times of need and show favoritism to the youth.

Two words for the elderly:

YOU ARE STILL NEEDED.

You connect the generations. I know you don’t always feel honored. Not your fault. God honors you, and I hope your children do. Karen and I are deeply grateful for the prayers of Phil and Margaret, her parents and my champions. We call them daily to connect and to pray together, which they do with passion, even though they don’t remember all the names. When Margaret was wondering why she was still around, I said, “We know why–you need to pray for us.” She shot up her hands in the air and began to pray.

EXERCISE YOUR BODY.

You’ll live longer. “Sedentary” will not help you. Karen’s parents (93 & 92) exercise before they get out of bed in the morning. I admire their desire to keep on keeping on. Don’t check out before you check out!

LET’S HEAR IT FOR OLD AGE! (part 1)

How are you at honoring age? When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, He attached a promise to just one of them because of its importance: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Ex. 20:12). Children who learn to honor their fathers and mothers are granted a long life and a good life (Eph. 6:2,3). Honoring starts in the home and extends to the church. If we can learn it at home, we permeate society with it. If it breaks down in the home, watch the life expectancy rate go down.

God promised Abram before he had any child, “You…will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age” (Gen. 15:15). He put “good” and “old” in the same sentence. God spoke this to Moses to be written in the Law for Israel: “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:32). One way to reverence God was to respect the elderly. God was shamed when old people were not given due honor. It is on God’s heart that the elderly be given their proper place, as was given to Job: “The young men saw me and stepped aside” (Job 29:8). Hey, God is the Ancient of Days, isn’t He?

In our western culture, older people are often embarrassed to admit their age. (Not true in Japan.) They want to pretend they are younger than they really are. What’s that about? The Biblical culture enjoyed the reverse. Job’s friends told him, “You shall come to your grave in ripe old age” (Job 5:26). The last verse of this book says, “And so he died, old and full of years” (42:17). The same was said of Isaac (Gen. 36:29). “Full of years” was an expression for “very old” with a positive ring to it.  

Age was considered an advantage. It brought superior wisdom, which meant that they were asked for their counsel: “Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom” (Job 32:7). The Hebrew word “elder” comes from root meaning “old age.” Most cultures, especially in the past, have given authority to people of age by virtue of wisdom that comes with experience (the Greek word “presbus,” in the Roman culture, “senatus,” Arabic “sheikh” all mean “old man”).

Leaders were called elders–because they were. People of experience were needed, not novices. When Rehoboam picked the advice of the younger ones, he went astray. God gave assurance to the elderly that they would be given special provision to match their special needs:   “Even to old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you” (Isaiah 46:4).

Old age was considered an attainment, a fulfillment, not a curse or a trial. We sometimes go out of our way to honor youth and tolerate age. Uffda! We need a vision for growing old. Old age can be a fruitful time of life, not a time of decline. Let us help the elderly maintain a strong vision of life. They shine with the youth in the Christmas story. Let them shine in your family and your church. Do I hear an “amen”?