Dr. Tony Evans once observed people are always saying they’re “Dying to do this or dying to do that. Pretty soon, they’re just dying.”
Evans further noted that no one really knows who the old people are, i.e., if you’re 25 years old and you’re going to live until you’re 40, you’re fairly old. If you’re 40 yrs old and going to live to be 100, than you are fairly young. So no one really knows who the old people are. (International Forum on Christian higher education sponsored by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, Dallas, April 2006.)
So what’s the moral of the story? We’re all in the same process—if we’re breathing, we’re aging. We’re getting older and there’s nothing we can do about it. Though there’s something we can do about how we go about it.
In commercials we’re sometimes treated to pop culture maxims like “You’re only as old as you feel.” That’s encouraging, because sometimes I get up or go to bed with aches. So I guess I feel old?
Or “Age is only a state of mind.” OK, try that one when your mind says “Go” and your bod says “No.”
Or “50 is the new 30.” All right, I can get into that. Except there are things I could do when I was 30 that I can’t do in my 50s. More importantly, there are things I could do, maybe did, in my 30s that I don’t want to do in my 50s. So does this make me older or wiser? An aging Boomer or an emerging Brainiac?
I’m 58 at the time of this writing. Even if I live to be considered elderly, I’ve already lived most of my life. This isn’t a morbid thought, just a realistic one. Do I have another 10, 20, 30 years? Another day? Blessedly, I don’t know. I only know that God’s given me a certain number of days and I’m accountable to him not for how many days I have—that’s his call—but for how I use those days.
In the past couple of days two notable men died, one at 84 years who I knew only by his public persona and work, one at 96 years who I knew personally.
The first: Leslie Nielsen, an actor who will be most remembered for comedy films, Airplane! and the Naked Gun series, late in his career. Nielsen had a successful acting career, but he was well into his 50s before he “hit it big” with his hilarious comedic gift.
The second: Peter Cook, a man who lived his life in Grand Rapids, Michigan as a locally respected businessman and philanthropist, one of the kindest, most gracious men I’ve known. He was financially successful in automotives earlier in his life, but he’ll be most remembered for his considerable generosity and the humility with which he gave in the last three decades of his life.
Both men accomplished great things in their “older years.” Not everyone can do what they did, but everyone can do what he or she can do.
There’s no rule written in the sky that says people must put stop aspiring, stop growing, or stop achieving simply because they’re older. Besides, as Tony Evans noted, nobody really knows who the old people are anyway.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010
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