Weekly Thought – September 26, 2023
Fred regularly advised “stay current.” He and a dozen leading Dallas Christian laymen met once a month for a prayer breakfast. They spurred each other on during strong, meaningful careers. As they aged they encouraged each other to finish well. They are now all meeting in heaven. Dad would regularly remind them to avoid joining the “usta club.” (I usta do this; I usta do that!)
The Perils of Aging
When I was in my forties, I started making a list of things I would not do once I was old. I knew I’d need the list because without it, the items would seem natural and would become natural. There were little things on it like not sleeping with my mouth open, or not wearing mis-matched clothes. But a few of them are worth exploring.
1. Reminiscing: A television talk show host told me if she interviewed someone who dwelt on the past she never asked that person back. I say good for her. I get sick and tired of listening to people talking solely about the past – about the glory days. They apparently have no present and no future… everything is in the past. That is a sure sign of aging poorly. The way I like to think about this: once you get out of bed you can’t find the warm spot again.
2. Comparisons: As we get older, we tend to make unrealistic comparisons. We talk about the good old time and the quality merchandise we had when we were young. I remember the quality crank that spun a Model T Ford engine and the quality piece of wire that pulled out the choke. I also remember the tremendous amount of aerobic exercise it took to get the thing started and the danger of breaking your arm if it kicked. Was it really so much better than sliding into leather seats in your British sports car, driving off in regal splendor?
3. Idealizing: Remembering the past through “rose colored glasses” even applies to the church. I once had fun at a preachers’ convention as the keynote speaker. I got up and started expounding the need to return to the old-fashioned forms of the faith: we needed to go back to the reverence for the Book. The longer I carried, the more animated I became, the louder and more frequent came the “amens” Then I stopped abruptly and said, “What I mean is… let’s rally go back to the old-fashioned circuit riders, when people only had to go to church every three months.” Graciously, they didn’t stone me, but these preachers gave me stony silence!
4. Faulty Forecasting: Every economist when forecasting should be required to give his age in the first line of the report. Our age seriously impacts our view of the future. As I view my older (much older than I) I see they either move toward optimism or pessimism – Pollyanna or Cynic. The optimists assume an “every day in every way things are getting better and better.” I hear them expressing ultimate belief in the coming generations, attributing moral and mental qualities which have yet to be proven by others of us. America is a winner – no matter what troubles they have “they are right and will win.” The cynic walks around interpreting all through the filter of a black cloud. Nothing good from these young ones can possibly happen.
My choice is to be a realist, but it isn’t easy. The line between idealism and cynicism is often extremely fine and hard to distinguish. But it is the healthiest position. Stay current – see things as they are, not as you thought they were, or as you wish they were.
Where should a Christian be? They must remain as idealists. We live in a fallen world with the evidences and consequences of sin, but we live with hope of comfort here and peace eternally. It is our assignment to be realists who make the most of our time – living redemptively.
This week think about: 1) How can I prevent falling into unhealthy patterns as I age? 2)What I my game plan for aging well? 3) How models aging wisely for me?
Words of Wisdom: “Stay current… don’t join the ‘usta club.’”
Wisdom from the Word: “They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green.” (Psalm 92:14 NET Bible)