What’s in an Age?
September 12, 2023
“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, ESV).
I was visiting a patient in the rehab center who had undergone a knee replacement. He was fine except for the slow pace of rehab. His wife was there, vivacious, energetic, appearing far younger than her stated age, which I will not share. I asked her how they had met.
“We actually met in church,” she shared. “You know, I am older than he. When we started dating, he wouldn’t tell me how old he was. I called the church office to find out, but they wouldn’t tell me either. By the time I found out he was five years younger, I was already in love, and the rest is history.”
What difference does age make anyway?
Quite a bit, actually.
When I think about all the changes that come with age, I am amazed.
We experience biological and anatomical differences as we grow. The infant is not the same as the child, nor the child the same as the post pubertal young person, or as the young athlete or scholar, or the middle-aged family person, or the recent retiree, or the very old.
Healthcare professionals need to understand the physical and physiological changes that come with chronology, so we can address our patients’ needs appropriately.
Mental and emotional changes come with changing age. We gain more knowledge each year we age—hopefully, good wisdom comes from our trials and errors as we put that knowledge to practice through the years. With very advanced age, some of us begin to lose that knowledge and wisdom.
Our skill sets change with age, as we learn to walk, and build things, and play sports and gain job skills that we put into practice.
Our dreams about all that life should be and what we should do about it change with chronology. When we are very young, we simply soak in things that become building blocks for our bodies and worldviews. Barna Group research suggests a person’s moral foundation is generally in place by the time they reach age nine. During youth, most will make their decisions to follow Christ or not. According to another Barna poll, 94 percent of people who choose to follow Christ do so by the age of 19.
And then, sometime between high school and mid-20s, we start to dream of putting to use all that stuff we soaked in with the vision of making life better for others. That which life has poured in, we want to pour out. All revolutions depend on the dreams-tied-to-energy of this age group. Most lifetime missionaries hear the call during these ages. With great feeling, many at this age seek purpose that really matters.
Then, for many, there comes a time of soaking back in, not for ourselves but for our families. A deep concern for family well-being drives most of us to take back from the world in order to care for those we love. This is an incredibly important time of nurture within God’s plan for the nuclear family. This is also a time of danger for gospel-sharing and gospel-living in that many lose their commitment to God’s great commission in order to seek security and happiness for those they love.
Then come the years where we have released our children and could, if we were willing, return to the dreams of serving God and others. Unfortunately, by then many of us are tied down by stuff that now owns us, security that perceives no need to trust in God, and dreams for a future that are not God’s dream. We often then forfeit the works “which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV).
Finally, in all chronological groups, but increasingly with increasing age, we become frail, no longer able to make our minds or bodies do what we wish they could do. Many in these times struggle with a reason for ongoing life; some of us are blessed enough to trust God more deeply for a plan of love and purpose that encompasses our frailty.
Age matters, but what really matters in each chronological subset is whether we choose to follow God within those subsets or choose to follow the world.
Let me be faithful, whatever age.