As you know, I turned 60 in the middle of February. Since then, I have been faced with the reality that we’re all getting older. And tomorrow I get to spend the day with my father-in-law and he keeps reminding me of what it’s like to be in his nineties. When I think of all the life he has lived, I can’t help but be amazed.
In my situation, I was always proud of the fact that I was a young guy who hung around much older people. Whether it was in the business world or the friends that we had, I was always the youngest one in the group. By the time I was selling wood products in the corporate world, I was only in my early twenties and had already made some large sales. By the time I was thirty, still the youngest guy in the room, I had consulted in Washington and had experiences that people much older were usually afforded. And there were so many other things that happened to me as a young man that I came to expect that I would always be the youngest guy in the group.
Gradually, that position slipped away from me. First I was almost the youngest and soon after that, I was hiring people younger than I was. Slowly, but surely, age started to creep in and over a period of years I found that I was becoming respectable in my age – people expected me to be the age I was for the position that I was in.
Then, I started noticing on Facebook that people would post pictures of things that carried an instruction to click “like” if you knew what the item was. There were things from the old 45 rpm records to the metal milk boxes that stayed next to the back door so the milkman could deliver the milk to your home each week. Rotary phones, and a host of other items seem to show up on Facebook and the younger generations have no idea what these things even are. I can’t believe it!
Then today I received a video clip from my cousin – highlighting a comedian in the late 70’s/early 80’s. How well I remember the character he played – Father Guido Sarducci. Andrew happened to be in the room when I played the video. I laughed like a fool – Andrew had never even heard of the guy… Then there was the highly successful executive team I coach. I could have sworn that many of the guys were older than I am – not so! Just one – and he only has me by several years.
Where does the time go? It seems like we go to bed one age and wake up being decades older. I know that it doesn’t really happen that fast, but it certainly seems like it. The Bible has hundreds of references to getting old. The patriarchs all lived rather long lives. And in the genealogies in Genesis, we know that in the early days, people lived hundreds and hundreds of years. But that’s not the case now. One of the most poignant references to aging is when Jesus speaks with Peter about getting old.
Peter professed his undying loyalty and allegiance to Jesus, but Jesus foretold Peter’s future. And it wasn’t something that Peter probably understood at the time. And while the journey isn’t over for any of us who are currently alive, it’s undeniable that as we age, at some point, we are less able to do the things we used to do. And that leads to changes in our lives – sometimes not fully in alignment with what we want for ourselves. The heart is willing, but the body isn’t able.
The verse for this evening is one to think about. It is the verse that Jesus spoke to Peter about his later years. We are told, in John 21:18, “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” If we live long enough, we will all face that prospect. And then, it comes down to surrounding ourselves with kind, loving people who will help us age with grace and dignity. Billy Graham has a great book out on this subject – “Nearing Home”. It’s the story of aging with grace.
My encouragement this evening is to realize that God is with you all the days of your life – no matter what age you are. And He will extend grace to you as you age. My prayer is that similarly, you will extend grace to those around you who are aging. It’s a special blessing to have a long life, and I also pray that you will age in accordance with God’s will for your life. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…