A headline on an Internet site read, "Death, the nation's #1 killer." The point was obvious—death is inevitable! No one can outrun death. It will catch up to all of us eventually. When I was interviewed by Newsweek in 2006 and asked to give a statement about death, I commented that I had been taught all of my life how to die, but no one had ever taught me how to grow old. That statement triggered a lot of interest, and I began thinking about a book on the subject.
I am certainly no expert on the subject of growing old, but now that I am gaining some experience, I have to admit that not all things get better with age. I have a newfound appreciation—and understanding—when I read this passage in Ecclesiastes 12:
Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, … Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed. (vv. 1, 6 NKJV)
When I read this passage as a young preacher, I can assure you I did not relate to it as I do now. What impresses me now is that Solomon, the wisest king ever to rule Israel, intended for the young to read it "in the days of … youth, before the difficult days come" (emphasis added).
When I was young, I could not imagine being old. My mother said, and the doctor confirmed, that I had an unusual amount of energy; and it followed me into young adulthood. When middle age set in, I dealt with physical weariness, but my mind was always in high gear, and it never took long for my physical stamina to return after a grueling schedule. It tires me out to dwell on it now, wondering how I ever kept up with such a jam-packed itinerary. I fought growing old in every way. I faithfully exercised and was careful to pace myself as I began to feel the ...1
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