Today I’ll take you way back in your Bible to Genesis 5. We find there a long genealogy, and from it we learn several things about life before the Flood. Namely, people lived a long, long time! We also learn something uber interesting about human nature. Adam was created in God’s image, as we are reminded here, but Adam’s son Seth was fathered in Adam’s image. We’re not discovering that the image of God is entirely gone by the time of Seth’s generation, but we are discovering that sin has already done a number on the human condition. The family line of Cain hasn’t gone so well (see Chapter 4), and appears to be violent and self-willed and generally proud, as that family tree branches further and further from the ways of God. Methuselah is part of a more hopeful story, and he makes it to the ripe old age of 969, but lifespans certainly start trailing off after the Flood.
Perhaps the Word of God is making an important point: as long as we’re here, there will be trouble this side of Eden. And that struggle with original sin isn’t going away this side of glory. When it comes to God’s righteous standards, we are defectors one and all. You and I aren’t going to stay on this fallen planet for 969 years – that’s a given – but it’s critically important for each one of us to embrace all of our years with the gusto of one who knows the One who is writing the grander story! If we don’t embrace even later life with a sense of glorious adventure, we’re likely to miss out on so much of the joy which God intends for us to experience here and now. So I share today’s blog posting in the hope of spurring you on to smile at the days to come. No matter what.
Here are some of my ideas …
Don’t settle for the path of least resistance – it’s a wimpy finish.
The Christian life can be exceedingly hard at times. As we’re learning in our study of Hebrews, that’s all the more reason why we have to run well. Lot’s wife … Esau … Gideon (surprisingly) … Samson … Saul … Solomon … Asa … Amaziah … Uzziah … Hezekiah … Josiah … Demas … why are all of these examples (and so many more) so painstakingly recorded for us? So that you and I don’t settle for a puny ending! So don’t let it happen.
Seek God to produce in you a sense of humor that’s fit for eternity.
Sarah laughed when she heard what God planned to do through her life (perhaps she was imagining how God was going to do it, if you know what I mean), but God got the last laugh when Isaac was born. God always gets the last laugh, friends. In seasons of life when we have no idea what God is doing, you and I can still laugh. And here’s why: whatever God chooses to take us through as He gets us there, the road from here to heaven is the most exciting adventure on earth!
Don’t try to run your race with your foot stuck in the mud – it won’t work.
As we get older, and as God continues to convict us regarding how our sinful nature is bearing rotten fruit in us – we’re still connected to Adam, by the way – we ought to get quicker and quicker on the repentance. By now we ought to know that sin is never worth it! This is not the time in our lives to get lazy and unproductive. This is the time to finally grow up! We’re long past the starting block, so let’s run like those who’ve learned to set the pace for godly and grace-filled living.
Show the next generation what it means to give yourself away for Jesus.
Let me say it like this: selflessness is not an inherent condition. It has to be taught. It has to be learned. Sanctification doesn’t come to us in the form of magic pills, but it comes to us in the form of discipleship. In at least some of your relationships right now, YOU are ready to be the disciple-maker. By God’s grace and for His glory, YOU can make an eternal difference in the lives of so many people within your sphere of influence, so what are YOU waiting for?
Retire from your job if you must, but never ever retire.
If you want to find the concept of retirement in the Scriptures, you’ll have to find the Book of Hesitations. It’s just not there. No checking out. No laying around. No armchair-quarterbacking while everybody else does all the heavy lifting! Be like Enoch: walk with God all the way home. It was written of that champion racehorse Man o’ War who’s buried at the Kentucky Horse Park: “Some horses led him at the first turn, some led him at the backstretch, a few led him at the far turn, but no horse ever led him in the homestretch.” If you’re in that stretch of life right now, because of the abiding presence and power of Christ, you can say confidently to your friends: “I’m not retiring, just rewiring.”
Face the scary stuff head-on, but without staying scared.
No denying it, there’s some scary stuff that comes with growing older. Bob Ray Sanders writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “I had watched my parents die 11 months apart. Watching my father suffer with cancer was a painful experience, for I saw this strong and independent man suddenly have to depend on others in ways he had never imagined. Every time I looked into his eyes as I aided him in the least – holding a straw to his lips for a sip of water, for example – his eyes spoke to me. While appreciative to have loved ones around to assist him, I knew that he hated every minute of it. Later, when I went through similar experiences with older brothers who were dying, I got that same piercing, heartbreaking look … What happens when (or if) I suffer the worst of the aging process: growing feeble, needing someone to feed me or maybe having no one who cares enough or has time enough to visit, much less ‘help.’ … What happens when the children I used to touch no longer want to feel my wrinkles, or hug my neck or laugh at my ‘used-to-be’ stories? In the past two years, I’ve been spending time with two older friends who have had serious health problems, and while I’ve been happy to share in their lives, helping any way I can, it has been tough. I’ve begun to see myself in them.” Friends, it’s perfectly O.K. to admit to yourself: “I just can’t get through this” … as long as you follow it with, “But God, I know You can.”
Celebrate those wrinkles – they’re signs of a life that is going the distance.
Go for it! Now’s the time! You don’t have to put off the full-fledged enjoyment of who God has made you to be – and who God is making you to be – any longer! Embrace it all. You’re wiser than you think you are by now, so stay in the Word and stay close to Christ, and people will be drawn to your strength and your stability. Everyone out there is struggling with uncertainty, but you’ve lived long enough to understand that – when it comes to the temporal circumstances of our lives – “certainty” is an illusion anyway.
So, if you’ve noticed a gray hair or two, hold your head up high. It just means that you have lived and that you are still living. And as you think about the chapter to come, you can grin from ear to ear, because you know that the tomb is empty.