The Second Act of Life

God’s existence transcends our mortal limitations and understanding of time and space. Therefore, age is of little consequence to God. The Bible says Noah was 600 years old when God commissioned him to build the ark. God promised Abraham children when he was seventy-five and his wife, Sarah, was past typical child-bearing age. Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born. Moses was eighty when he led the Israelites out of Egypt. Caleb, well advanced in years, fought the giants off of his mountain.  Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, was also past child-bearing age when she became pregnant. Conversely, God called Gideon, David, Josiah, Jeremiah and Timothy in their youths to defeat enemies, slay giants, lead spiritual revivals, give prophetic words, and preach.

Contrast God’s view of age with how modern American culture views age. In American culture, some people worship at the altar of youth and take drastic steps to slow or stop the hands of time- spending billions of dollars on “plastic surgery,” miracle creams, exercise equipment, putting off adult responsibilities as long as possible and so on and so forth. Age is seen as a barrier for the young and old alike. When we are young, we often think others will not take us seriously. As we age, we believe the lies that we have nothing more to offer or that we are too old to start or learn something new. The adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” becomes ingrained in our minds.

The Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca made observations about age and purpose:

“You cannot, therefore, accept a hoary head [gray hair] and wrinkles as proof of a long life; the man has existed a long time, he has not lived a long time.”[1]

“…the worst fate of all is to be stricken from the roster of the living before you die.”[2]

However, I believe that as long as we have breath, we have purpose. Every day is a gift and we must cherish it. We must keep in mind that while we have been given another day to live, others have not. Make the most of what we have. We must live the fullness of life as we seek God’s will.

“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11, NKJV).

In American culture, we spend the prime years of our lives working hard at our jobs and typically retire in our early to mid-60s, where we draw Social Security and/or our retirement pensions. For many, these “golden years” can be a difficult transition as people lose purpose or deal with illness and disease. Unfortunately, many elderly people are discarded and not valued for their wisdom and what they can teach the next generations. Though families and society may disregard us as we get older, God does not forsake us.

“…even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” (Isaiah 46:4, NKJV).

“Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails…Now also when I am old and gray-headed, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.” (Psalm 71:9, 18, NKJV).

“Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” (Psalm 92:13-15, NKJV).

Brothers and sisters, let us throw of the self-imposed and societal barriers that have been placed on age and live to the fullest. There are plenty of people outside of the Bible who have not let age deter them from making their second act of life just as memorable and accomplished as the first act. Everything that has happened to you up to this point has prepared you for the next stage of life. Seize the moment. Seize the day. This is your time. God bless you.

 

[1] Moses Hadas, The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca, “The Shortness of Life.” New York: W.W. Norton & Company 1958: 56. Brackets mine.

 

[2] Moses Hadas, The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca, “On Tranquility.” New York: W.W. Norton & Company 1958: 87.

 

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