The old guy laid there, thinking, dreaming, reminiscing about life and life’s events spread over nine decades. It was a life well lived.
Highs and lows? Of course; joy and grief, yes; excitement and disappointments, definitely; expectations met, and expectations missed.
But now as I approach my 90th birthday, someone remarked (tongue in cheek) “Why don’t you act your age?” I replied, “I don’t know how – I’ve never been this age before.”
How do we prepare to be old? In our 30s we are getting settled in our career; in our 40s we are absorbed in job and family; in our 50s and 60s we may think abstractedly about future retirement; in our 70s and 80s we’re constantly trying to keep up with the calendar of medical appointments.
Approaching 90 we ask ourselves ‘how did I get here? what about my old friends who didn’t come this far?’ This is tough. I can’t drive; I can’t go out at night; I must always be conscious of finding the nearest bathroom; why don’t we have some way of training to be old?’
Parents teach some things to their children (well, some do, mine did not. I was like a weed instead of grass – I just grew untrained like a weed rather than being nurtured like grass.) But to grow old gracefully – that should a goal for all.
Actually, we do have a “training manual” – the Bible, God’s Word. The Scriptures are quite numerous that tell us of God’s plan for us whom He created.
God’s Plan for our Length of Life
Psalm 139:16 – Our days were all written in the Book of Life before any one of them came to be.
Job 14:5 – Our time on earth is brief, the number of our days is already decided by (God). Every man has been allotted a number of days on earth.
Psalm 57:2 – I cry out to God Most High, to God Who fulfills His purpose in me.
Psalm 90:12 – So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 91:16 – I will satisfy you with a long life.
There are more.
Growing old in God’s image
To grow old gracefully is best done by honoring the fact that we were created in God’s image, to show His image, His grace, in our daily living.
In just over 100 days, if the Lord wills, I will reach Four Score and Ten, 90 years of age. Am I growing old (or perhaps I should ask, have I grown old) gracefully?
I have a lot of friends, and more acquaintances, and thousands whose paths I’ve intersected in these decades. I know better than to presume there would be unanimity if that question could be polled; nevertheless, I’ll go to my grave confident that whatever grace I may have exhibited is God’s grace, not my own.
I’m also confident that, particularly beginning with my salvation in Christ on Easter Sunday 1957, I was a living example of Psalm 57:2b: “. . . God Who fulfills His purpose for me.”
My life’s trajectory is on the downward spiral now. With 89+ years of personal history I could go on, but I return to my theme: How to deal with growing old.
The mundane things: sight – cataract surgery; heart – get a pacemaker; dizziness – carry a cane; driving – stay off the freeways at night; relationships – always be kind, you never know when you’ll need kindness returned; food – eat what you want, you’ve earned the right; activity – keep your mind occupied (for me, it’s writing blogs and essays).
The important thing: God – stay caught up in Scripture reading, prayer and repentance, you may see Him face to face any day now!