Today we live in a very youth oriented culture with so much advertising from Botox treatments to shampoos that make you look and feel younger. For a fact we know that people are living longer and that becomes an issue for healthcare, Social Security and all kinds of expenses. But most of us don’t feel as old as we probably are. In fact, the new saying is 60 is the new 40.
All of this is very interesting except that as a sports fan, it’s hard to watch your sports heroes in decline. Swimmer – Michael Phelps who took home 16 medals at the last 2 Summer Olympics said to reporters in a recent article that I read, “I feel like an old man coming out of the pool sometimes.” Tiger Woods at the age of 35 suffering from numerous injuries and a disastrous personal life seems to be showing signs not only of wear and tear, but of aging. He’s not the only one to slow down or become a victim of the aging process. That’s been the case with lots of people, it seems like we don’t understand that after the age of 25, we are physically in decline.
In an article entitled “For Derek Jeter, On His 37th Birthday: Forever young, except on the playing field”, his athletic performance is being analyzed. He has recently broken the record of 3000 base hits, but has been injury prone and is beginning to miss a number of games. In tracking his performance from his rookie year of 1996 through his most recent full season, 2010 – looking at stolen bases, slugging percentage, defensive range, etc. – you can notice a decline. The swing of the bat is not as fast, getting to the ball takes a few seconds longer and striking out becomes more frequent. Derek is 37, still looks good but you can notice the receding hairline, the wrinkles around his eyes and the fact that he is not quite what he used to be.
Then again, neither are we because in this mystery called “life”, we are all given a number of days and as we progress, we all move into an aging process that will bring us in the end to death. It’s the same for Derek Jeter, except he just signed a 51 Million Dollar contract, which makes him a little different than most of us, but aging is the great equalizer and so is death.
I supposed what I am getting at here is mortality. Sometimes youth is wasted on the young and we throw away our days as if they were endless. However, for all of us at some point, we wake up with the realization that time is flying by. “Has it been that long since I graduated from high school/college or gotten married?” “Can my kids be that old?”
I call this a wake up call that rouses our thoughts and our lives into the realization that we have to make the most of the time God has given us. It’s the realization that moments are precious, people are important and we shouldn’t get caught up in the small stuff that prevents us from becoming the people we need to be and reaching out to the people that we care about.
Bob Dylan has that great song entitled “Forever Young”, but forever young is an attitude. It’s an attitude of maintaining enthusiasm, interest and a lifelong desire to continue learning. I’ve presided over a lot of funerals. Some people are able to put 95 years of learning into 50 years of life, while others don’t seem to accomplish much at all. Most of the time they are stuck or paralyzed in the past and never seem to want to face or embrace the future. It’s really sad when people who are seniors drop out of things with the thoughts that “I’ve given enough, it’s time for someone else to take over.” It’s a negative mentality that makes you old. You see, we are all getting old whether you like it or not, but you don’t have to have an old mentality. In fact, you can be forever young if you embrace the attitude that life is a gift with opportunities and journeys yet to take. I’m reminded of Psalm 90 (one of my favorites) that talks about the shortness of life and likens it like grass that grows up in the morning and withers in the evening. The Psalm tells us that we need to count our days and gain a heart of wisdom and that we need God to “Satisfy us in the morning with steadfast love…..and make us glad as many days…..and years” that we have been given.
For in the end:
God is our dwelling place in all generations.
And before the mountains were brought forth
or ever you have formed the earth and the world
from everlasting to everlasting, you are God
May God keep you forever young.