Old is a relative term. When I was 16, I never thought I’d live to be 21. When I was 21, the word was; “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” Now that I’ve passed 70, 30 looks young. So what is “old”, and how do you get there?
Someone from my elementary school decided to have a reunion (something probably almost unheard of for elementary schools). It was a 41st matriculation (graduation) get together. That means, that give or take a few months, we were all 53 years old. One guy who was a custom home builder in a resort area looked like he was a very fit 35. One lady came on oxygen and a cane, and looked like she was 75. That’s a pretty big spread in the aging process as far as appearance, health and functionality.
There were some there who acted just about as immature as a 12 year old and others who acted their age, so that was another contrast or “big spread”. There were some there who had accomplished much in intellect, position, prestige and wealth, while there were others who had not prospered or accomplished much, and that’s another “big spread”.
So, “old” can be physical, related to level of maturity, or just passing time. Ah, “time” is the one factor that confronts us all – it’s the most limited commodity on the face of the earth. A friend who is 94, tells me it doesn’t get any better. I have friends who have died already at their own hand, another’s hand, or from natural causes. Time is the enemy of all mankind, and it is a tool – use it wisely and judiciously, for it will never pass by again. There is no reincarnation to correct past mistakes and right the wrongs – no second chances. As Scriptures says; “Man is appointed to die once, and then the judgement.”
Getting “old” is a process of surviving your (or other’s) mistakes, foolishness, injuries, illnesses and the vagaries of life. Yes, you can die from other’s mistakes and foolishness as well as your own. Some jerk might want to send you to war, and you get killed. Some other jerk might want to tax you to death (literally, studies show increases in taxes kill more people due to the stress of having to pay them). Some macho jerk might feel like drinking and driving 100 miles per hour down a boulevard, run a red light, and bingo, you’re gone in an instant! Who knows, some guy might decide to be dictator for life and kill everyone who parts their hair on the right side of their head? You never know when your time is up.
So, as we can see, the factors in getting old are a combination of time and chance. Within those two, there are opportunities to avoid aspects of bad chance, but there is not total control, because there is also the factor of “acts of God” which is an included exception in insurance policies to protect the insurance company from being wiped out when there is a lightning strike, a flood, a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, volcanic eruption, meteor strike, tsunami, famine, drought, etc. Yes, an “act of God’ is the single most indeterminable aspect to all of life. It can happen in a blink of an eye, or faster, and can devastate hundreds, thousands or even millions.
Historically, whole cities and nations have been wiped out. Regardless of the “nay” sayers, there was a Sodom and Gomorrah, and it was destroyed suddenly. The nation of Israel was wiped out in 70 A.D. by the Roman army, and never recovered until 1948. There certainly are other examples, although less blatant and striking. The bottom line is that God exists, He’s in charge, and you’re not!. The movie Rudy has a great line (here), and it’s fundamental and impossible to argue with it. In fact, as he says, it is the one absolute truth he’s discovered after 35 years of studying the issue.
Getting old is a combination of things. Therefore, it is the surviving of chance and time as well as having the mercies of God upon you. He can take your life in a moment. Read the story regarding Ananias and Sapphira at the beginning of chapter 5 in the book of Acts. They lied to God, and He dropped them dead instantly, or at least the instantaneous moment after they were confronted with their sin.
Some say that “old” is a state of mind. That may be true, but only in a philosophical sense, because no matter what your state of mind is, if your 100 years old, you will acknowledge that you are “old”. You may be in good physical shape, mental shape and philosophical/attitudinal shape, but you are still old at that point, because relatively speaking, you are in an incredibly small minority of people who live to be that age, and your days, whether you like it or not, are numbered. A prayer in Scripture is; “Lord, teach me to number my days (that I might gain a heart of wisdom).” That is a good idea, and way too many people who deny God, His existence, His sovereignty, His authority etc. do not do that, and then without warning, they are confronted with their mortality, and it’s too late; they are on their way to Hell for eternity, and there is no recourse!
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