June 1, 2016
Young people have a perspective on life that will change as they grow older. Most of them do not think about getting old because that seems so far away. They typically do not concern themselves with thoughts of retirement, disability insurance or where they will live decades from now. Their focus is mostly short-term, and if we can get them to think about the next ten years, we consider it a major accomplishment.
People at the other end of life – 55 years and older – usually think about all of these issues and more. Decisions made during the middle 40 years directly affect all of the concerns that come with the aging process. Confidence, regret, satisfaction, guilt, anxious thoughts – these can be major concerns as we get older.
Our list of “things that really matter” might show the greatest change in attitude from teenager to senior. Looks, approval by peers, fashion, money, friends, acceptance – the list goes on with teens.
Senior adults are more concerned that they have eyesight than how they look to others. While peer pressure can affect everyone, a confident independence usually develops with the aging process. Fashion means less, money loses its satisfaction, friends are dying and survival may be a greater concern than acceptance.
More important than any of this is the changing value we place on things that are eternal. We admit that money is a means to an end and we try to use it to help people have a better life. Striving to get ahead in life loses its luster when we watch the wealthy and famous take as little to the grave as they had at birth. Job said, “I was naked when I was born and that will be my status when I die.”
Both young and old can miss what matters eternally – knowing Jesus and being secure with God. That is one gift that cannot be taken from us no matter what our age, ability or influence. I believe older people think more about this than teenagers. We all benefit when we spend time together and blend wisdom with enthusiasm. I want to age while surrounded by youth. We need each other.
Pastor Bill Ehmann