Before I go any further, let me hastily explain that I don’t think of myself as being very old. Just older than I’ve ever been before. And younger than I’ll be one second and one minute and one hour from now, assuming I’m still alive then.
Okay, so what do you associate with old age? What about the one obvious answer, the one I just referenced–death and dying? Not most people’s favorite thing to think about. Mine, either.
Not that I’m afraid of being dead. I know where I’ll be then, and will that ever be better than continuing to live on this sin-cursed earth. But like many of you, I’m not fond of the prospect of a lengthy or painful final illness.
Do you associate old age with slowness? Physical slowness–did my father ever poke along as he got older–and mental slowness. Thank goodness he never reached that point until perhaps a few days before his death. And how horrible would it be to suffer through the last part of life with dementia of any kind?
Or do you associate old age with garrulous folks telling the same old stories over and over again and you having to sit there and politely pretend to listen and be interested? I hate to admit it, but that typified my father many years before he reached old age, and it didn’t get any better then. Yet now I wish I could remember many of those stories which–for better or worse–are forever lost.
Or perhaps you think of old folks in an all-too-similar way: as living in the past?
But those are all negative, undesirable old age traits. Don’t we associate anything good with old age?
I’m not sure whether the Bible speaks about those old age-related stereotypes I’ve mentioned, but it’s fascinating to read parts of the Old Testament and learn how many years various familiar (and some unfamiliar) biblical characters lived.
But one thing it does talk about–especially in the book of Proverbs–is something very positive: wisdom. Just out of curiosity I opened my Bible to Proverbs and put my finger down at a random place on the page. Sure enough, Proverbs 30:2-3 says of Agur–I’m not sure who he is, uh, was–“I am the least intelligent of men, and I lack man’s ability to understand. I have not gained wisdom, and I have no knowledge of the Holy One.”
Okay. Maybe not the most helpful passage. And even though most of the references to wisdom in Proverbs speak of it as a desirable quality, I couldn’t find one wisdom verse there that related wisdom and old age.
The Bible refers to wisdom 211 times, however, and I think Job 12:12 is applicable. “Wisdom is with aged men. With long life is understanding.” I feel confident there are others.
If you’re like me, you may question how many old people are appreciably wise. Too often it seems that the advice they’re inclined to offer seems outdated and irrelevant. That’s sad. I don’t think they could’ve attained old age without gaining at least some wisdom and understanding about a few subjects.
Perhaps our unwillingness to listen reveals a lack of wisdom on our parts.
What do you think wisdom is? Do you think of old people as being wise? How about leaving a comment?
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