“I’m a senior citizen” or “I’m retired” often refers to those golden years of life. It is those clichés that fail to reflect the joy of those golden years. You may feel old at forty or young at eighty, but only you can determine the value of a mature life. Although truth is not relative, there are many aspects of life that can be measured relative to something else. Obviously aging is relative to those circumstances that accompany a mature life.
The Bible has much to say about old age, but in a world that looks only at the fast lane, there is not much attention given to the scriptural principles to guide those into the sunset of life.
Unfortunately the first thoughts on aging are generally negative. The Bible addresses issues like vision, strength, and vigor. The story of Issac losing his eyesight in has later years is a good example of how age takes its toll on life. David lost his strength in the twilight of his life. Christians are unique because they may call on God for health, strength and life. The Psalmist said, “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails” (Psalm 71:9, NJKV). There is a kind of urgency in this prayer, but the Psalmist was not ashamed to ask for help because it is during the latter years that we especially need the grace of God to keep the body up and going. Charles Spurgeon has rightly said, “It is not unnatural or improper for a man who sees old age coming upon him to pray for special grace, and special strength, to enable him to meet with that he cannot ward off and what he cannot but dread.”
The wisdom literature of Scripture (Job through Song of Solomon) reflects the attitude that should accompany old age. “I said age should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom” (Job 32:7, NKJV). The failure to respect maturity in life is a mark of declining values in cultures around the world. Young people should have respect for their elders and explore the vast wealth in the senior mind. Rehoboam made a fatal error when he rejected the counsel of the elders of Israel. He chose his young friends to counsel him and in the end the bad counsel of the young men was an instrument of destruction for the nation.
Old age is desirable. The story is told of a king who became irritated by his court jester and in a sudden rage of wrath the king sentenced the court jester to death. Then realizing he had decreed this awful thing said to the court jester: “In consideration of your faithful services, I will permit you to select the manner in which you prefer to die.” The court jester instantly answered, “I select to die of old age.”
History is replete with examples of people doing great works in the golden years of life. Moses was eighty when God called him to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. Phillips Brooks was a great and powerful preacher at eighty years of age. Benjamin Franklin wrote his autobiography when he was over eighty.
The gift of seeing the sunset of life at an old age is a privilege and joy. It is a great privilege to share the wisdom from a chest of life experiences. The joy of sharing that wisdom with the next generation is the way to walk into the sunset in peace.
*This brief narrative is also included in my book, The Present Truth. https://www.amazon.com/Present-Truth-Martin-Murphy-ebook/dp/B0083EOH0Y?ie=UTF8&qid=1464186248&ref_=la_B003W50RMQ_1_6&s=books&sr=1-6