“Haha, silly old man,” were the mental words I muttered as I watched the elderly gentleman performing awfully-sluggish lunges in front of me. “Silly old man, what are you doing in the gym? You can barely move as it is. What has your life come? Simple drudgery. Your wrinkled old skin and fragile bones… What you need to do is go backwards in age about 50 years and then copy me. Silly man.”
Over a five-second time span, those were the literal thoughts that formed in my mind as I glanced at the 70-year-old man working out. It’s scary how hurtfully prideful and sinful my initial thoughts were. Suddenly, my attention shifted to his facial expression. He had a sharply keen stare in his eyes – as if he were remiss to the workout machines and people surrounding him. It was as if he truly believed that he was the only person present in the gym. Even the gym itself seemed to not have been anywhere on his radar. My common sense finally appeared and it then dawned on me that he surely must have been there for a reason. Maybe he’s had a recent health scare and is at the gym by doctor’s orders. Maybe he wants to get in shape to show his wife that he “still has it” at his age. Maybe he has no one and nothing in his life and just wants to feel something again. Then I realized that that day of old age, regardless of circumstance, is coming for me with just a blink of an eye. With just…the blink of an eye.
It was only a few days ago that I was in Kindergarten learning how to write my home address and Mrs. Hill told me how well I was doing. I remember the layout of the classroom, where I sat, and the excitement I felt. What is it about youthfulness that blinds our eyes from seeing just how fragile and short life is? Psalm 39:5 and 101:15 are going to compare our lives to a single breath and our days to grass in the field. The latter verse further says that the wind blows the grass away and the ground remembers its place no more. What it’s saying is that as people age, the generation underneath them will begin to disregard and neglect them more and more. As much as I love my parents, my future children will not have that same tangible love for them and will not care to be around them as much. In a few generations after me, they will not even remember my name. Such a truthful picture that the Bible paints. That doesn’t really make us feel warm inside, but hopefully that does clear up some blinders.
But silly me. Silly us. Here’s the thing about old age…here’s how the Bible is going to portray old age…it consistently glorifies it. The entire Bible says that wisdom comes with years. Proverbs 22:15 will say that folly is in the heart of a child. Why do we fear aging so much? Why do we ignore the wisdom and companionship of the older generations? Oh how Satan has twisted our society so that we have a natural divide amongst generations.
For almost a year now I have been in a small group with a predominantly older crew. In this group, I have realized that I am a lot more dumb than I am wise. I know theology – I can chat church history or apologetics, switch to politics or engineering and sprinkle it with sports … but every time I am around them, their wisdom blows me away and greatly humbles my prideful ignorance. It reminds me of how much I have yet to live through and learn. As a wise pastor once said, “Nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing teaches like LIFE.” We can read all the books we want, we can watch all the Youtube videos and BBC documentaries, we can get all the face-lifts and take all the youth pills we need, we can do everything right externally – but in the end, what matters is the internal. Wisdom. Character. Courage. The Heart. Spiritual depth. And only years of living life teach all of that.
To paraphrase King Solomon’s candor in Ecclesiastes 7, he says “Who cares how many likes you get on Instagram if at the end of the day you’re pretending as if you’re not drowning on the inside. The Wise hang out with people that will encourage, rebuke, guide them closer to Christ. While the Fools surround themselves with people that are stuck in the same ditch that they are currently in.” Even though I wrote a blog on Christian dating a few weeks ago… it was only a few months prior that I was very close to asking an unbeliever out on a date. Biblically, I know the tremendous stumbles it could cause. I have even warned my own friends away from this a few times. However, things were different when the shoes were on my foot. I mean, this girl had a cute smile and could dance! Stick a fork in me, I’m easily done. Well, when I confronted the men in my small group about my plans, each of them lovingly told me how stupid that idea was. And here’s the thing, I had a legit plan and even scripturally spoke on how it could work. But they shut it down immediately and I came back to my senses. See, I needed that because I already had myself deceived. We may never verbally say it, but we definitely act like we’re invincible and that we know everything. But King Solomon would say that it would be wise to have older, godly friends sometimes … because they can see things that we are blind in seeing.
Older men and older women, we need you. Please come into our lives. Otherwise we are bound to make the same cyclic-mistakes as the generations before us. Lord knows we need to do life together. Imagine the spiritual growth that would take place from the integration. Think of the amount of vitality that it could bring to the older generation. I pray that this happens. May Christ be glorified through it all. May his Spirit guide us in our youth and sustain us through our old age.