People define “old” in a variety of ways. Some folk panic on their 40th birthday. AARP eligibility begins at 50. Medicare and Social Security start at 65. In the United Methodist Church, clergy face mandatory retirement at 72.
Regardless of definition, we all grow older every day. Like those warnings on car mirrors, it’s closer than it appears! One person said: “I knew I was going to get old—I just didn’t realize it happened so young!” Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.
You might be growing older IF:
- You get free coffee at McDonald’s without asking.
- Pretty girls call you “sir” at the mall.
- After bending down, you stay in case anything else needs to be done down there.
- The only thing you exercise is caution.
- Your body makes the same noises as your coffee maker.
- Your retirement portfolio is heavily invested in metals: you have silver in your hair, gold in your teeth, steel in your hip, and lead in your pants.
Age is ultimately relative. After all, OldER is a comparative term. OldER than who or what? Older normally means older than ourselves. However, older gets younger in a hurry. In my own experience, ages I once considered OLD are now MUCH YOUNGER.
I knew a group of World War II veterans who enjoyed meeting for breakfast at the local Kentucky Fried Chicken. A member of their group was about to celebrate his 90th birthday. One friend kidded the birthday boy by saying, “I don’t know that I would want to live to be 90.” Without hesitation, the man replied, “You would if you were 89!”
Growing older brings with it unique challenges and blessings. However, we believe that our Lord is with us in every age and stage of life. Too often we look forward to the future or reminisce about the past rather than living for God in the present. The only time we can serve God is TODAY.
The Bible also challenges older adults to continue a life of fidelity and service. The Bible does not mention an earthly retirement plan for Christians, but the benefits are out of this world! So it’s important to finish strong. Using imagery from the Olympic Games of his time, Paul wrote about fighting the good fight and running the good race. We are challenged to cross the finish line at full speed.
OldER adults also set an example for the church. They teach by word and deed what it means to live as a mature men and women of God. Older Christians serve as pioneers of faith, blazing a trail forward into the future.
My greatest heroes and heroines of faith are older Christians I have been privileged to know over the years. Their words, actions, and attitudes have shaped my understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ in every age and stage of life. They teach me how to live—and how to die—as a person of faith.
We are called to serve God in every age and stage of life. We honor those older than us for their wisdom and example. As pioneers of faith, they mark a path into the future. In turn, we are pioneers for others.
In one of his last books, Dr. Seuss reminded us: You’re only old once! So make the most of it.