The Paper Pulpit
I have always loved senior citizens, and I am glad of that — because I now am one. I’m not just glad to be a senior citizen, but I have plans to keep on trucking down the road. Among the choicest servants of God that I have known have been dedicated men and women who have traveled on by their sixty-fifth birthday.
I sometimes call us “S.S. People (SS is for Social Security). It has been said that there are three ways you can tell that you are a senior citizen: (1) you may experience a loss of memory ... and I can’t remember the other two. Also, you don’t have to avoid temptation nearly as hard as in younger years because it avoids you. When you lean over to tie your shoe, you ask yourself, “Is there anything else I can do while I am down here?” The obituary page is the first thing you check in your morning newspaper.
Even before they reach their sixty-fifth birthday, a high percentage of men have already worked their way through three different hair styles: un-parted, parted and departed. Some of us are 42 around the chest, 46 around the waist, 100 or more around the golf course, and a pain around the house. A man in Missouri said sadly, “It is terrible to grow old alone. My wife hasn’t had a birthday in several years.”
A very cynical person once said: “Youth is an illusion; adulthood a blunder; and old age a big regret.” Sheer pessimism! Those who characterize the last years of life in this way are individuals who live only for themselves. I believe it is best to look at life beyond your sixty-fifth birthday with both enthusiasm and humor. It certainly beats the alternative — especially if you are healthy and happy.
I have noticed two types of senior citizens:
• Those who inevitably move us with a sense of self-pity. They think of the calendar as a banker would a robber, as having stolen everything of value they owned. Their activities are narrowed, their faculties are dulled, and their face is long.
• Those who move us not to pity but to a sense of joy. They may be frail and nearsighted like the first type, but they have an inward spring of happiness from which contentment leaps to everyone around them. They cannot walk as fast or see and hear as well as in other years, their judgment may be less prompt, their memory sometimes fails to supply a name at call, but one never attaches to them the notion of impoverishment. Children and all healthy creatures are glad at their coming, for they have wisdom and strength to share.
Old age is a joy when you have a sense of humor. On his one hundredth birthday, a salty gentleman in Florida said, “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” If you cannot count in your memory many dedicated servants of God above sixty-five who have touched and blessed your life in immense ways, you are one of the world’s most deprived individuals.
The Bible says, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he or she shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon” (Psalm 92:12). The date palms described by the Psalmist bore fruit every year for 300-400 years, and they can still be seen in Lebanon today. There is no more majestic sight in the desert wildernesses of the Middle East than to see an oasis with their date palms rising toward the sky with their diadem of leaves.
Cedar trees grow in the mountains in Lebanon. They grow lofty in stature, have great strength, are evergreen, and give off to their surroundings a sweet fragrance. These are the characteristics righteous seniors should have. So, if you are above sixty-five, get out of your recliner, go out into your community and share your knowledge and experience with others. Practice holiness. And bear fruit for the glory of God.
The Rev. D.E. Parkerson is retired pastor of First Baptist Church of Sanford.