Recently I noticed a picture of Prince Charles of England on a website. We share the same birth year. My initial response was something like, “Wow! He looks old.” I also noted recent photos of friends who face the same issue. A lot of people I know are looking older.
Just last week in church, the pastor was making a point about relevancy. He did this by drawing a comparison between a young twenty-year-old college student and a seventy-year-old retiree… I read comments in the social media regarding the late 1990s and early 2000s suggesting that these times were long ago.
I warmly recall a conversation with my grandfather on or about his 69th birthday, in which he asserted that he was now almost 70 and “70 is old.” Up until then, he had been extremely active and productive, even in retirement. From then on, he resigned his roles and duties in the church and community. He quit his favorite hobbies and sat in his garage, waiting for the hopeless Phillies to be broadcast over the radio. It was a good lesson for me and I vowed that I would never be like that, but always be active for as long as I lived.
If you know me, you also know that I’ve broken that vow. Eight years ago I was catastrophically injured on a bicycle ride; I was 62 years old and training for a “century,” (a cyclist’s marathon – 100 miles). Thus, I injured my spinal cord. I had embarked on a bicycle training ride and returned thirteen and one-half months later riding a motorized wheelchair. Up to that point, I really didn’t feel like I lost much energy or strength, although I know I had. Obviously, this has severely impacted my activity level. I am paralyzed from the shoulders down.
You’ve probably guessed by now that I have turned 70 this past week. Yesterday at the VA Medical Center, my physical therapist and a dietitian separately reviewed my records and politely commented, “You do not look like 70.” I thought to myself, “You probably think that look like I am 80. My body may be getting older, but my vision has not failed. Plus, I have glasses to help!”
At the ripe old age of seventy, I am well aware of the Bible passage which describes the lifespan of people. Psalm 90:10 (ESV) The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
For the last eight years, I’ve been very much aware that my life is fragile. However, I still feel like I have more years left. One never knows. Our times are in the hands of our Lord. I am now acutely aware of my limitations and the many factors which hinder me from doing more.
A few years ago (say three or four) we planted some peonies in our yard. Even transplanted bulbs require a few years before they produce beautiful blossoms. The plants struggled initially but have survived. This was to be the year of the first beautiful flowers. We waited all April and early May watching the buds develop. Although Initially hindered by the cold weather, they finally produced beautiful blossoms. That was this past Wednesday. On Thursday we experienced a huge storm. Guess what? The large blooms filled with rainwater and were weighed down to the ground. We enjoyed them for one day!
Life is like that, isn’t it? We wait and wait and wait for a development and before we have the opportunity to really enjoy it, it’s over – gone. This shouldn’t surprise us. Life is all about changes. Circumstances do not remain the same. I could go on and recount some of a great many changes which have occurred in my lifetime and experience. This may interest some and bore many others. Besides, you can do that for yourself.
Instead, I will reflect on two things which have remained constant in my experience. First is the LORD. He is the one who is and was and is to come. He is Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 (ESV).
God does not change and his love for his people does not change. My favorite biblical word is Hesed, a Hebrew term frequently used by the Lord to describe his “committed love” directed toward his people. It is often translated as abounding love, loving-kindness, mercy, steadfast love, etc. What a tremendous comfort it is that God has and will always love me. He loved me and other rebels so much that he sent his one and only Son into the world to save the world. What a benefit to know that God loves us. We can count on it.
The other constant in my life has been wife Judy. In October 1970, she committed her love to me and I committed mine to her. Since then, the Lord has been our Shepherd through many good and pleasant times. We have also walked through many dark valleys together. She has faithfully and lovingly honored those commitments. Little did we realize what these commitments involved. Judy has endured much on my account. She has cheerfully remained a loving wife and supportive helper, a wise and self-sacrificing mother, devout Christian and cheerful friend. Surely, God has richly blessed me with a wonderful helpmate.
This week someone blessed me by telling me that I have been an encouraging example. I responded that if I had been, it was primarily due to the Lord and Judy plus a whole lot of supporting actors – both family and friends.
So, I thank the Lord for the years that he is given me – 70 so far. I trust that I will be able to serve him for a few more. Thank you for your prayers and interest.
By the way, Facebook is relatively inconsistent in publishing my posts. If you are interested in receiving them, sign up on my website: hopeforkip.com
May the Lord bless you.