As hard as it is to believe, Patricia and I just got our Medicare cards. As some of you know, Patricia and I were born the same day (January 15, 1953) and we’ll turn 65 together in just a matter of weeks. Even though we are getting older, we don’t feel old. ‘Old’ is relative and the chronological measurement of age is the least important measurement. Psychological, intellectual, and physiological aging are much more significant. No one is automatically old at 65.
Billy Graham, who turned 99 earlier this month, offers the following advice about the opportunities afforded those of us who are growing older:
When Coca-Cola changed its one-hundred-year-old formula in 1985, there was
a public backlash and demands for the original, so within two short months the
company was forced to return the beverage to grocery shelves under the name
of Coca-Cola Classic, spiking sales for the soft drink company. The conclusion of
marketers was that the formula had stood the test of time. The trade secret had
trumped the new recipe, as proven by the millions of fans who did not want the
“real thing” tampered with.
What does this have to do with growing old? Old is authentic. Old is genuine. Old is valuable. Some say old is even beautiful… The older generation may have a hard time keeping up with the younger, but let’s remember that as long as we are still breathing, we are leading the way. The generations that follow are learning about growing old from us. Are we good examples? While we have all made mistakes and would like to turn back the clock to correct some things, we know this is not possible. But the lessons we have learned from our successes and failures can help those following behind. The impact we can potentially have on them can mean the difference between leaving good memories in our place or simply being out of sight, out of mind.
Retirement is not biblical. It is American. Nowhere in Scripture can you show me where God encouraged his servants to retire. Moses was 80 when God called him to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. Aaron was 83 when he became Israel’s first high priest. And, I love what old timer Caleb said to Joshua just before going into battle in Joshua 14:11-12:
So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I am just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day.
Compared to these biblical octogenarians, this youthful soon-to-be-sixty-five-year-old is encouraged! If God was still using folks twenty years my senior all those years ago, then I believe some of my best work could still ahead of me. What I want most, however, is to leave a good example whatever God has for me to do.
As that old possum, George Jones, used to sing:
I don’t need your rockin’ chair
Your Geritol or Medicare
Well I still got Neon in my veins
This grey hair don’t mean a thing