Monday, May 24, 2010

Getting Older

This week I got a little older. My family gathered to remind me of that fact and I received some nice cards and phone calls from well-wishers.

How old am I? Well I think I’ve entered the final stage of life.

Some say life is made up of four stages: Infancy, Youth, Middle Age and finally--“You look Good!” At least that’s what old people tell each other when they meet.

Last week a waitress at a local restaurant guessed my age was 10 years younger than I really am. In addition to giving her a good tip, I said, “You have 20 minutes to cut that out!”

In the midst of a culture that worships youthfulness we rarely celebrate the wisdom, maturity and satisfaction that being older can bring. Sometimes I wonder why.

“Now hold on just a minute! Are you feeling sorry for yourself?”

Not in the least. I enjoy being my age. My wife and I survived the child rearing years, the college years and the weddings. Now we’re enjoying the delights of grandparenting.

While many cultures celebrate their elders, unfortunately ours does not. Sadly many older Americans feel “put out to pasture” just as they enter the years of greater wisdom. Some young adults never benefit from the wealth of wisdom their elders offer them because they never ask.

In Bible times one’s elders were honored. The Bible reminds us, “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.” It also says that maturity brings many blessings for those who serve the God of the Bible.

God says, “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.”

The Psalmist, David, wrote, “I was young and now am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” That was certainly true in my family.

Dad used to tell me, “God is faithful and he’s not going to lose his reputation on you or me!”

Growing old also brings wisdom. Job asks, “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not life bring understanding? To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.”

One of the great things about getting older is the perspective on life it brings. The aging king Solomon reflected on life and in his wisdom wrote, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.” Why? Because it will save you years of regret.

Do you listen and learn from those with experience? If so, the Bible will steer you right. I have followed its wisdom since my youth and God has blessed me and met my needs every step of the way. And he can do the same for you, if you will trust in him.

The Bible also reminds us of our duty: “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”

That’s one reason I’m a pastor and why I write this column. Because there aren’t many places left in America where it’s safe to tell others about God and what he’s done for us. Just mentioning Jesus has gotten state police chaplains in trouble—unbelievable!

When I was a student we learned in school about the faith our founders had in God. But today teachers get in trouble for displaying references to God in their classrooms from sources like the national motto, the Pledge of Allegiance and the Declaration of Independence!

So if you’re getting older, like me, point the younger set to God. One day they may thank you for it. And if not, you’ll still be glad you did the right thing.

Listen to the Bible; it’s great for your soul!

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