The Blessings of Growing Old
By Rev. Richard A. Bolland
as printed in the Pagosa Springs Sun Newspaper, Jan. 8, 2004
The beginning of a new year reminds us of the transitory nature of our lives, and rightly so. With each passing year and each passing decade we are surprised to find ourselves getting older. Children we knew as small children provide us with a reality check as we suddenly realize they are small no longer. Suddenly, almost like an ambush, they go away to college, get married and have children of their own! How did this happen?
Then there’s the reality check of looking in the mirror. Whatever happened to that youthful, well-muscled body that used to be in the mirror? Don’t you just love it when you go to the doctor for a check-up only to hear those dreaded words, “Well, that’s normal for someone you age.” Or don’t you feel a twinge of pain the first time they ask you at the restaurant if you want to order off the “Seniors” menu. Oh, the indignity of it all!
But I would submit that there is blessing in all of this. After all, what would happen to us spiritually if we never aged, never got sick, and never noticed that things aren’t what they used to be? Naturally, we’d think that such a circumstance would be grand indeed! But in reality, there’s a blessing here that we often don’t realize.
What blessing could that be? Well, if we never aged, never got sick, or never suffered the indignities that come with advancing age what would we do? I would submit that we would feel less and less need for God and forget the reality of our sins. The Holy Scriptures tell us that we are all conceived and born sinful, (Psalm 51:5), and that the result of our sins is that we have no option except to die. (Romans 6:23). Now sin is simply lawlessness in the sight of God and it is a terminal condition into which all humanity is conceived and born. In other words, sin places each and every one of us at odds with God and the results of sin embraces everything that leads to death - aging, disease, and the like. Therefore, when we suffer our various ailments and notice that we are loosing our hair, expanding in the waist, and can’t do the physical things we used to do with such ease, we are reminded of our lost condition and the inevitable physical end of our lives in death. Strangely, this is a very good thing!
It seems that what we as fallen, sinful human beings need the most is to recognize that we have no standing before God at all! We have absolutely nothing to bring to Him and nothing admirable in us that God would find attractive and so save us. Yes, the very first thing humans need to know is that they have no hope in themselves before a Holy and Righteous God! Now, perhaps you think that such a realization is anything but a blessing, but I tell you that it is the very door to salvation and eternal life! The very first place we must come before God it to a place where every evidence of human pride is left behind and abandoned! Then, and only then, can the sweetness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ do its saving work!
You see, the Gospel has absolutely nothing to do with what you have to do! Rather, it’s all about what God has done in Jesus Christ! It’s all about God becoming flesh and as a real human being keeping the Law of God that none of us could keep! It’s all about how Christ Jesus pays the full and complete penalty for our sins on a cross outside of Jerusalem making any payment we might render nothing but an insult before that divine payment rendered on our behalf! It’s all about His victory over the grave (Remember the wages of sin?), and knowing beyond any shadow of a doubt that Christ has not only forgiven us, but has given us an answer to the wages of sin by paying them Himself.
Now, every ache and pain we experience is a reminder that we need a Savior, not merely a good example. Every evidence of our aging demonstrates with eloquence that it can only be to the cross of Christ that we cling and trust, for there is no other answer which God has provided sinful, condemned men. (Acts 4:12). This Christ is the only access to salvation and eternal life that we have. (John 6:44)
Therefore, the next time we get a bulk mailing from the AARP offering us older folks discounts for the elderly on various services and products, remember! Remember our need for a Savior, not just another “good teacher”. Remember that, in the end, all such suffering and disease will be gone for it was Christ who has come to carry our sorrows and who bears all our diseases! Remember, that even when our loved ones stand at the foot of our grave, they will know that death is not permitted to have the final word, but that life, through faith in Jesus Christ gets the last laugh!