We visited a man today who has terminal cancer. It struck me that the book on his table was called “How to Raise a Gentleman.” This man knows he is at the end of his life but what is most important to him is his faith, his family and that his grand children be raised properly. That was touching. It is inspiring to talk with someone who knows they are nearing the end of their life and yet they still have so much life and so much hope and so much faith.
Psalm 92:12-15 gives us a vivid image of our lives being like a palm tree in God’s courts. We grow and flourish and bear fruit as God plants us in His court. Even when the tree is old the fruit is there and that tree is still “fresh and green.” That psalm gives us a picture of vitality aged to perfection. There is something about spending your life in the courts of God that helps our lives bear good fruit. It is the only way to flourish and stay green in old age. There is no substitute.
It is possible to reach the end of your life and, while dying, still be full of life. It is equally possible to be young and energetic but dead on the inside. Age does not have the be the disadvantage that society tells us it is. Youth is not always advantageous for the most substantive things in life, the things you will cling to when your health is failing. It is important that we don’t wait until we are old to get first things first. I have had friends who told me that the faith thing would come later in life when they had a family. Well, now they have a family of their own and faith is still far from their thinking. Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 tells us that we are not to wait until old age to remember the Lord. Instead he tells us twice in seven verses to remember the Lord while we are still young. Obviously it is important to remember God at all stages of our lives. However, if we remember God when we are young then we can avoid many of the pitfalls and poor decisions that can happen when we don’t think about God until we are old and firmly entrenched in our actions, attitudes, and beliefs.
How can we teach a generation that is incessantly focused on self and on immediacy how to shift their focus to God and the long haul? How can we turn around the stigma that old age has nothing positive to offer?