For the first time in my life my oldest child, Jack, beat me on a long distance run. Only a dozen years ago I held my sons hands to steady him as he learned to walk. Midlife can be cruel.
I visited my dad twice this past week. He is now in hospice care — stuck in bed, catheterized, and unable to stand or walk. Only a short time ago he carried me on his shoulders, and taught me how to throw a baseball. Cancer is cruel.
I am 41 years old and I stand between my son and my dad.
I did not feel old a year ago but life circumstances have changed my perspective sooner than I anticipated. For the first time in my life I no longer feel like a young man. I am loathe to admit that I’ve reached life’s summit and will begin the second half of my journey — downhill.
So I will fight. I will run for two weeks without my son, and then ask for a rematch. I will re-read chapters of an excellent book on midlife by my friend Peter Greer — 40/40: Vision. I will make use of tools popularized by others. Meaning, I will:
- Mock old age. Bob Hope cracked, “I don’t feel old. I don’t feel anything till noon. That’s when its time for my nap.”
- Reclaim the perspective of a child. Henry Ford said, “Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
- Embrace the potential of age and silence my resentments. Pope John XXIII said, “Men are like wine — some turn to vinegar but the best improve with age.”
- Keep calm and carry on. Bette Davis warns, “Old age is no place for sissies.”
- Ponder slippery half-truths. Mark Twain claimed, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind it doesn’t matter.”
And yet old age will creep closer with each passing day and I will desire more than clichés. So, I will turn to the Bible and attempt to see things from God’s perspective. I will:
- Remember God as I accept the inevitable. “Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw nigh of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’… before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened (loss of sight) and the clouds return after the rain (incontinence)… and the grinders cease because they are few (loss of teeth) and the doors on the street are shut (loss of hearing)…before the silver cord is snapped… and the dust returns to the earth as it was (death), and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7)
- Rely upon Jesus to change the inevitable. “The dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable and this mortal body must put on immortality…then shall come to pass the saying, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’…Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 15:52-57)
- Return to hopeful living. “[Because of Jesus’ resurrection] be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. When death is defeated, life will be measured in millennia not years. When decay is reversed we will age stronger, not weaker. And when God restores his creation, all that is broken will be made new.