Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness. Proverbs 16:31 (NIV)
Age is a funny thing. The only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we’re kids. In fact, when you’re younger than ten, you’re so excited about aging that you think in fractions. You’re not just five. You’re five and a half. You’re never thirty-six and a half. But you’re five and a half going on six!
Then you get into your teens. Now there’s nobody to hold you back. When someone asks how old you are, you say, “I’m going to be seventeen.” You could be fourteen but you’re going to be seventeen.
And then the greatest day of your life happens – you’re twenty-one. Even the words sound like a ceremony.
But before long you turn thirty. Oooh! What happened here? Makes you sound like bad milk. She turned. We had to throw her out. What’s wrong? What changed?
You became 21, you turn 30, you’re pushing 40, you reach 50, and then you make it to 60. Phew! You never thought you’d make it. Then before you realised it you’ve hit 70. After that it’s a day by day thing. You hit Wednesday and you’re 80. You hit lunch . . . I mean my grandmother won’t even buy green bananas because they might be a bad investment!
Which brings me to what happens after the seniors card?
Retirement, as our generation knows it, is not biblical. In God’s economy it’s about slowing down – not stopping. He intended for us to ease up but not to cease all productive activity. Moses worked until he was 120 years old (cf. Deuteronomy 34:7). Joshua was 85 years old when he set out to conquer the hill country of the Anakites (cf. Joshua 14:10-12). And “the prophetess Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher . . . was eighty-four” and yet “she never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying” Luke 2:36-37. Which indicates how seniors can do something even though they can’t do everything.
Retirement is about growing and not groaning. The Roman scholar, Cato, started to study Greek when he was older than eighty. When someone asked him why he tackled such a difficult task at his age he replied, “It’s the earliest age I have left!” That’s a great attitude. It recognises that God wants us to keep growing to the end. That we should have a positive outlook even though the body parts that don’t hurt are the parts that don’t work! As Marie Dressler says, “It’s not how old you are, but how you are old.” So don’t resist what God is doing in your life. Don’t stop growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t stop growing in your walk and worship of the Lord. Don’t stop growing in faithfulness and fruitfulness. And continue to have an openness to what God is wanting to teach you by His Spirit.
“Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul.
You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt;
As young as your self confidence, as old as your fear;
As young as your hope, as old as your despair.
In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber.
So long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, and courage.
So long are you young.
When your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism,
then, and only then are you grown old – and then, indeed, as the ballad says,
you just fade away.”