Growing old is an inevitable condition besetting us all, and regardless of the amount of money we may spend on reversing the perpetual stream of wrinkles, worn out parts, and a rapidly expanding energy deficit, the march into the clutches of old age is relentless. Ironically, little children and young people cannot wait for their next birthday. Those my age can hardly believe another one has rolled around already. Solomon, the venerable Preacher of Ecclesiastes, concludes his wise review of life, reality, and all its vanities with a poetic but graphically blunt description of the “evil visited upon our bodies as the birthdays multiply into the seventh, eighth, and ninth decades of life. The picture is not a pretty one. A good sense of humor will do wonders for the soul in this stage of life, especially when there is an assured hope of better days and new bodies to come!
I have been quite involved in these recent weeks of preparing to move my 94 year old father into assisted living, and being a necessary assistant until the move takes place, Lord willing, tomorrow. In his “day and throughout most of my life Dad was a powerfully strong and energetic individual. There wasn’t any moss that grew under his feet. But age and its calamities catches up to us all and the result is indeed humbling. Though his body, however, is now weak, the spirit is strong and a devotion to His Lord is “locked-in, since in his youth, as Solomon wrote, he came to know and serve His Creator; and the intervening years did not dissuade him from the undaunted truth that “this God is my God forever and ever, He will be my Guide even unto death.
But one just cannot read this 12th chapter of Ecclesiastes, describing the corruption of our corruptible bodies, and ignore the critical message rising out of these painfully real descriptions. As age increases and the body inevitably decays, the heart grows harder, and I do not now mean hardening of the arteries. The rebellious spiritual heart calcifies and increases in either apathy or anger towards God and the liberty found in Jesus Christ. It is simply more difficult to respond to Christ in old age when one has repeatedly turned away from “remembering their Creator in the days of their youth. The habits and mind-set become increasingly fixed until even the fear of the nearness of death’s door will not dislodge them. Resisting for one reason or another specific, memorable opportunity in one’s life when there was even a blip of sensitivity to the things of God grows one more layer of scar tissue which as time passes becomes impenetrable to reason and the persuasion of truth.
Solomon wasn’t blowing smoke when he wrote these words millenniums ago. This truth I have observed, and if you have eyes to see, so have you. The parable Jesus tells of the rich landowner hiring workers early in the morning, at midday, at evening, and in the 11th hour before midnight, and then paying them all the exact same wage despite the vigorous protest of those who worked all day, expresses the truth that the offer of the Gospel is just as sufficient for those whose eyes are opened near the end of their life. But if confronting the truth of God in your life is something you believe now you can put off until later on (any amount of “later on), Solomon says your odds are pretty slim and getting slimmer every day, until there are no odds for you at all.
Remember your Creator in the days of your youth!
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