Motorcycles, Walking Sticks and Old Age
On a recent visit to Cracker Barrel in Greenville, Alabama I let my wife out at the door to try to make things easier for her. Husbands should honor, help and encourage their wives. Peter wrote, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7) After I parked the car and was walking in I saw a beautiful blue and white motorcycle. It had a neat side car so I stopped to take a quick look. It was a good-looking bike. We ate at a table beside a couple that was about 10 years older than me, so you know they were old folks. When they finished their meal I watched as they arose to leave. The man took a few seconds to get up and get his balance with his walking stick. The woman arose with greater ease than he but she too used a walking stick. We were beside the window. I watched as they stopped beside the motorcycle. I assumed they were taking a look like I did. Then I saw them placing their walking sticks in the side car and getting on the bike, he on the bike and she in the side car and ridding away. This made me do some thinking about growing old and old age.
As we grow older changes do take place. Solomon described the process of aging and death in Ecclesiastes 12:1-7. In the spring time of life our bodies are strong. In the winter of life, during old age, there are many infirmities. During the time of old age our hands tremble. As we get older our legs become feeble. They do not support our body well. Old age brings a diminishing of sight and teeth are often lost. Sleep is diminished and the older person awakens at the slightest sound. During old age the almond tree flourishes. The hair of the person turns gray or white and often falls out. The smallest of things like the grasshopper become a burden. The desires of the person fails, especially the desire for food. Then we die. It is a strange and almost humorous thing that we do not want to get old, but neither do we want to die young. Years may wrinkle our skin but we must never allow the years to wrinkles our soul or take away our dreams. I never want to be like so many who die a long time before they are dead. My prayer is constantly, "Dear Lord let me never die till I'm dead."
As we grow old we should grow closer to God. As we grow older we should grow in wisdom and spiritual understanding. "With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding." (Job 12:12) Those older believers should share with the younger generation what they have learned about the greatness of God. "Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come. Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee!" (Psalms 71:18-19) God's desire is that we grow old as a righteous person. "The hoary head (silver-haired head) is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness." (Proverbs 16:31) Let us, like Caleb look for some mountains and giants to deal with in old age in order to bring honor to God. He said, "Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said." (Joshua 14:12)
“How” we grow old is far more important than how “old” we grow. We must learn to grow old gracefully. This means that as necessary changes come that we make the best of the situation. Paul wrote, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (Philippians 4:11) Sometimes the aging process means that a person has to move from their home to be near or to live with children. As difficult as this may be for the older person, you must make the best of it. Do all that you can to be alive while you are alive. Appreciate the things that are done for you. Do not murmur and complain. Paul wrote, "Do all things without murmurings and disputings." (Philippians 2:14) Make whatever adjustments have to be made gracefully. Sickness and inability to care for oneself makes these changes necessary. So do your best to make the best of life. Tell those you who love you and care for you how much you appreciate them. Do not allow yourself to be a miserable, discontented person. A positive, Christian demeanor is important to all stages of life. My age should not matter, but my Christian maturity should and godliness should likewise matter. Dedicate yourself to being a godly, gentle and beautiful old person. Do something good every day. No one could make a greater mistake than he who does nothing because he could only do a little.
There are many Bible lessons concerning "Old Age." The Bible teaches that the elderly should be respected. "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD." (Leviticus 19:32) The older people often offer wise counsel. "But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him." (1 Kings 12:8) Those that serve God faithfully will be taken care of in old age. "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." (Psalms 37:25) In old age we must never quit working for God and serving Him. "They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing." (Psalm 92:14) It is God's desire that, "the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience." (Titus 2:2) I have learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our relationship with God and on our dispositions, not on our circumstances. We have so little time on earth let us never waste it on self pity and pessimism. "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)
Life can grow even better as we grow older if we are growing in the Lord. Older people can be good people because of years of growing to be like the Son of God and obeying Him. To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus as the Christ (Mark 16:16), repent of all sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized for remission of sins. (Acts 2:38) After baptism remain faithful to God as you grow older. (Revelation 2:10) Heaven is too glorious to miss.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA