Old Age

Being old isn’t easy. It has its compensations, but it is, in many ways, tough. After all, the cumulative effects of sin upon the body are ordinarily felt in old age. The prospect of death is there, of course. But so long as one has his relationship to God in order, he need not think of it with fear. What he might fear, however, is the process by which the transition into glory is made. It could mean much pain, the loss of essential faculties and the like. It might mean burdening family members unduly. It might mean the expenditure of large sums of money. It could easily cause the loss of independence. It’s this part that’s the most scary.

Old age does have its compensations, as I said. Although we aren’t an oriental country where old age is revered, we older folk (do you like the sound of that word?) do find people in general considerate of our infirmities and foibles. We get to sit in the soft chairs (even thought we may have more trouble getting out of them than rising up from the higher ones). There are the senior citizen advantages. There are the extraordinary birthday parties (80th, 85th, 90th?). And if not still driving, you usually get to sit in the shotgun seat rather than stuffed into a cramped up back one.

Well, I’ve said about enough on this subject. I don’t think about it that often—note this isn’t an early blog. I did consider it probably necessary to say a word on the subject though, since becoming an octogenarian (do you like the sound of that word? It sounds like some kind of laundry cleaner or detergent to me). So you have it, for whatever it’s worth.


Note: I mentioned oriental countries. I couldn’t believe the extravagant respect that I was accorded in Korea. Besides age, I had several other things going for me: a beard is respected (and should be, of course!); I am a preacher (again, a respected class, though not in America, for sure); I was a professor (with an earned doctorate to boot); I was an author (just one more item in the list). When people came near they bowed. When I say bowed, I mean with chins almost to the ground! (I know most Koreans’ chins are lower to the ground than mine, making it easier). But respect for others of age—unbelievable for an American. When I came home, re-entry was nothing short of a culture shock, I can tell you.



Someone writes to ask about retirement. Well, I don’t read anything about it in particular in the Scriptures, so I assume that we are not to retire—if that means cease ministering. Ministering is something that from time to time will change with one’s opportunities, God’s providence, and one’s abilities. Elijah wanted out, it seems, but God wouldn’t let him pack it in. He still had things for him to do—albeit, of a different nature. That’s how it is, it seems, from the biblical data that we have. Perhaps you can cite something in addition to what occurs to me at the moment. At the moment, I can’t. Retread it; don’t retire it!

For more about dealing with the problems of old age see my book Wrinkled But Not Ruined.