On My Eighty-third Birthday
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come (Psalm 71:17,18).
I vaguely recall George Carlin's routine about aging—how we "make it" to 60 years and then we "hit" 70. I think he ran out of verbs at age 80, but today I can say that I have been "given" 83 years. I’m here solely by the grace of God.
God has indeed taught me from my youth. I was raised in a home where Jesus was honored and I cannot think of a day when I did not love him. I can say with John that I know and believe the love he has for me.
I live today in a spirit of thanksgiving to God for the years he has given me. “Most people my age are dead these days,” as Yogi Berra famously said. There must be a reason for me to hang around, for God has a good reason for everything that he does.
One thing I know: I can continue to grow. There are parts of me that are unconverted, vast areas to be conformed to the likeness of God's Son. I want to continue to hear his word every day and ask for his help while he finishes the work he has begun.
I look to many of my aging friends for encouragement. Their strength in weakness, their endurance in illness and pain, their love despite sorrow and weariness, their faith and hope in the face of death—encourage me to become like them when I’m grown.
And I know God has other things for me to do. Certainly to love and to pray, for these have long been the works of the aged. And much can be said for just "being" and resting in the love of God. Perhaps in these and other ways I can "proclaim God's might to the next generation; his power to all that are to come."
In the meantime, God has promised that he will never forsake me. He has been my shepherd for 83 years now, holding me with his strong hand, guiding me with his wise counsel, and one day soon he’ll “receive me into glory” (Cf., Psalm 72:23,24).
"Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow." Who could ask for anything more?
Growing old but not retiring,
For the battle still is on;
Going on without relenting
Till the final victory’s won. —Anon.