Too soon old, too late smart
Knowing at the beginning of the week a large-scale rainstorm was imminent for the weekend, I got out into the yard, with rake in hand, to clean up all the dead leaves the dry weather had produced throughout the summer months. I got two days of yard work in before having to get back to my regular job, and the yard looked pretty good.
At work the next day I leaned over to pick up some papers off the floor, and for the first time in a long time, my lower back screamed out a spasm attack sending me to the floor. Oh, happy day! The older I get the more pain and agony I get to enjoy for three or four days. It’s probably no worse than 20 years ago, but it sure feels like it. At least I don’t have to lean over fenders and grills in this condition any longer and I’m happy for that. I don’t like to think about it but the old body is beginning to talk back at me when I work like I’m 30 again. A lot of punishing miles have been added since.
[Ecclesiastes 12:1-7] Solomon shares a poetic description of old age (with the purpose of emphasizing the need to start serving the Creator as a youth, otherwise the time will come when it will be too late): “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I find no pleasure in them’ ... when the keepers of the house tremble (the arms and hands are often no longer steady); and the strong men stoop (the legs are no longer straight and strong); when the grinders cease because they are few, (the teeth have lessened in number); and those looking through the windows grow dim (the eyesight is now clouded and dim); when the doors to the street are closed (ref; Psalm 141:3 the wise in the Lord have less to complain about) and the sound of grinding fades (the sense of hearing has deteriorated); when men rise up at the sound of birds (one is easily awakened); but all their songs grow faint (this may be a reference to the fact that one cannot sing along with the same ability as he could as a youth); when men are afraid of heights and of danger in the streets (the fear of falling is ever present and balance is no longer taken for granted); when the almond tree blossoms (the almond tree turns to a silver and then white color when it is almost finished with its cycle; this certainly refers to the changing of one’s hair color to gray and then to white); and the grasshopper drags himself along (even the lightest of activities is now a challenge); and desire is no longer stirred (advanced age and poor health reduce the strong appetites of the flesh); Then man goes to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets (a reference to death and the grief it brings to the living); Remember Him before the silver cord is severed (before life slips away); or the golden bowl is broken (before the mind becomes dull or slow); before the pitcher is shattered at the spring (before the heart is broken or the spirit crushed); or the wheel broken at the well (before death overtakes you) and the dust returns to the ground where it came from; and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (ref; Genesis 2:7).
Admittedly, some of these metaphors are difficult to interpret with certainty and are therefore not presented dogmatically. Nevertheless, the picture painted by Solomon is powerful, and the overall message is clear. Old age brings a variety of struggles. The wise will begin seeking God in early life and continue serving Him until death. Those who are foolish put off the pursuit of righteous living until later in life (Acts 24:25). I’ve got the Lord to carry me through.
Thomas W. Bonham is an associate minister with the Floresville Church of Christ. Email him at email@example.com. Find his column on his blog at http://wilsoncountynews.com.
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