I sometimes wonder whether my mind or my body will break down first. I think about the frustration of going from competency to helplessness. What will it be like to have my independence taken away from me? Someday I will no longer be able to drive or live on my own. I may not be able to dress or bath myself. I wonder if I will have the humility to laugh or if I will feel degraded. I recently saw an older person stumble and spill their coffee on their pants and someone's floor, and feel humiliated. We will all experience this someday.
I think about having loved ones die, and being alone. I once heard a widow recount how she was no longer included in certain social events after her husband died because tables were set for an even number, and couples like to hang out with other couples.
THE TEMPTATION OF BITTERNESS
I wonder how difficult it will be to journey through old age. Why do some people finish so well, and others act with such ugliness. Some are kind, joyful, and contented even though their life is far more difficult then it was in younger years. Others seem bitter, selfish, and demanding...like they are owed something and not getting their due.
I imagine it is tempting to think, 'Is this it? Is it all over? Isn't there supposed to be some payoff for all the things I've accomplished in my life?'
I'm sure that the difficulties of old age will exacerbate my sinful tendencies. It's easy to be a good person when your life is great, but it's far harder to put sin to death when life is difficult.
The elderly are somewhat forgotten in our world. Their spotlight stolen by the young and upcoming. I am convicted that I desire far too much attention from other people. In the words of Robert Murray McCheyne, "I need to be made willing to be forgotten." If my identity is in Christ alone, then even in my loneliest times, it will be enough. How is it possible that I am loved by the God of the universe--intimately, unconditionally--because of Jesus' work on my behalf? This truth makes me hopeful.
THE LAST CHAPTER
As I contemplate these things, the thing that gives me the greatest hope is this: old age is not the final chapter in life. There is eternity after that. And that is when the payoff comes for those who trust in Jesus for salvation. When our broken, decaying bodies will be made whole again. All that is crooked and wrong in the world will gone and the beauty of our Saviour will be before our eyes night and day. "In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
As I contemplate further, I wonder why I assume that I will live into old age anyway? Perhaps I will see my Saviour sooner than I think.
Maybe this all seems a little morbid. I do realize that there is no surer way to make good company uncomfortable than to talk about death. But I wonder if we too often live in a world where sin does not exist and death does not happen. A delightful, yet false reality.