Do you dread getting older? Many of us do, just because we realize it's possible we have lived more years than we have left to live in the future. The "golden years," as they've been called, don't have to be dreaded, however; the autumn of one's life can be a rewarding time spiritually, intellectually, and in relation to other people.
To grasp the value of old age, we need to look in the Bible. "Old age" is a time to be respected, although many in our society look at this time as a stage of only decline and failure, or a time of memory impairment.
When was the last time you heard someone say, "I had a senior moment?" Yet, that outlook is far from the truth. The Bible teaches us that the power of God can be revealed in old age, even if this age is characterized by physical difficulties. Psalms 92:14 says, "In old age, they will still bear fruit."
We see many "old" characters throughout the Bible who lived very fruitful lives. Abraham, the Bible says, died at a "happy ripe age, old and full of years, and he was gathered to his people" (Genesis 25:8).
It was through Sarah's barren womb and Abraham's centenarian body that the chosen people were born (Romans 4:18-20). Moses, who was given the law for the Hebrew people, lived a long life and led his people through the desert to a new land.
It was from Elizabeth and the elderly Zechariah that John the Baptist, the precursor of Christ, was born (Luke 1:5-25). In the New Testament, the Apostles John and Paul lived long lives and contributed to our lives by writing of many books in the Bible.
In the Scriptures, respect for older people is transformed into a law, or commandment: "Honor your father and your mother." And in Leviticus, "You will stand up in the presence of gray hairs."
One of my favorites is Proverbs 16:31: "Gray hair is a crown of splendor. It is attained by living a righteous life."
Proverbs also instructs the young person to listen to the father. In the Old Testament, the son, the young person, always encounters, or receives, God from his fathers, or his elders. It is older people who define the present by passing on to others what they have received. In a world where there is a tendency to ignore or see older people as being on the margins of society, this fact should make us re-think our own beliefs about elders.
Ruth Lynch is a commissioned minister at Autumnwood Care Center