life lines_ Growing old

By Ian Robinson, Major

A colleague mentioned—with some fear and a lot of trepidation—that she would be 50 on her next birthday. It shocked her because she felt no older than 35. I know the feeling. Next month I will turn 65, but I don’t feel a day over 50!

This whole growing old thing has been on my mind a lot recently. It started when I applied for my small British pension, which starts coming into my bank account next month. We have been feverishly looking for somewhere to stay because The Salvation Army’s policies and procedures say I must retire next year, when I turn 66—no ifs, ands or buts. I am still trying to find a loophole around that one. And we are hoping to find a nice job somewhere in Southern California so we don’t have to take trains, planes and automobiles to visit the grandkids. (All offers considered.)

Several years ago I preached a sermon series called “Growing Old without Growing Cold.” One of the illustrations in the first message said, “You know you are growing old when…”


• your knees buckle and your belt won’t.

• you know all the answers but no one asks the questions.

• you finally get it all together and then you can’t remember where you put it.

• your pacemaker opens the garage door whenever you see a pretty lady go by.

• the little gray-haired lady you help across the street is your wife!

• the gleam in your eye is just the sun reflecting on your trifocals.

• it takes more time to recover than it did to tire out.

• you sink your teeth into a nice juicy steak and they stay there.

Enoch was one Bible character who knew how to grow old without growing cold. Gen. 5:24 tells us that, Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away (NIV). At the youthful age of 300, Enoch was relieved of all the troubles and tribulations of old age. The book of Hebrews gives us further insight into Enoch’s character. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God (Heb. 11:5b). No wonder God wanted to take him home—the word for “pleased” means “gratified entirely.” Of course, that should be the aim of every Christian. The Apostle Paul confirmed this when he wrote, So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it (2 Cor. 5:9).

Could that be my retirement plan? If I live to please God like Enoch, he will take me home to be with him before I get much older? Sorry, it doesn’t work that way! I only live to please God because of all that he has already done for me. I am saved by grace, sanctified by the Holy Spirit and promised eternal life in heaven—complete with a mansion—when I eventually go home. So I will grow old, gracefully and passionately, without growing cold, knowing that someday I will see my Savior face to face.

My favorite lyricist described it this way:

Someday I will stand before your throne,

And I’ll be known.

Someday I will kneel beneath your feet

And know I’m home.

One day I will see you and you’ll wipe my tears awe

Then my fears and sadness will all vanish on that day.

                                                           (Isobel Robinson)

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