My mother had a book titled “How to Live to 100.” In this book and elsewhere, people who were aged, but physically vibrant and mentally sharp, shared their secrets for a long life. Answers varied, but two things they had in common were a reason to live, and the enjoyment of life. A life of purpose.
Examples in the Bible include Abraham, Isaac, Moses and Anna.
Abraham looked forward to seeing the son of his old age grow up. Isaac thought he might not have long to live when he accidentally gave Jacob the fatherly blessing. After Jacob left home to escape his brother’s wrath, Isaac lived to see his return after Jacob had taken time to father 12 sons and at least one daughter. Moses had a mission to complete. Anna was determined to see the prophesied savior before she died.
President George Bush went skydiving on his 80th and 90th birthdays and probably would have done it to celebrate his 100th. But, the death of his beloved wife was too much to bear. He died shortly after she did.
Winston Churchill was a political failure until he became a charismatic leader at 66, rallying the British to resist the Nazis. Grandma Moses began painting great artworks at 78, and she lived to 101. Harlan Sanders was fired from one job after another. He was broke at 65. Then, Colonel Sanders opened the first KFC, and the rest is history.
It has been said that every human being on Earth has a purpose. The misshapen bell ringer in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” saw the beautiful Esmeralda whom he loved, and who he thought loved him, run away with the handsome young soldier, and, he cried out, “Why was I born?” We are not content until we can justify our existence. But, suppose your life has not gone the way you thought it should?
Suppose you have done well in life; but, you can no longer do what you used to do. The person who rises to the challenge of doing something different exercises his mind, and is therefore less likely to suffer significant mental decline with age. If you are following the leading of the Lord, remember: whom God calls he also qualifies.
We have already seen examples of senior citizens making great achievements. Some for the very first time. There is something to be said for the elderly voice that speaks well to the younger person about himself. And, that bedridden soul whose mind flickers in and out gives purpose to his caregiver.
Disciple, deacon, evangelist, teacher, parent, motivator, host. Philip in the book of Acts was a man willing to do as the Holy Spirit led and empowered. When, as an old man raising a family he found travel impractical, he gave aid and comfort to the next generation of evangelists.
I made mistakes as a young man. After three quarters of a century I can tell the next generation a thing or two because I have seen a thing or two. I used to run; now I walk. I am writing the vision and making it plain so that young runners can carry it to others.
Homer McQueen serves as assistant pastor of Mt. Carmel Church of God in Christ, secretary at In His Shadow Outreach Ministries, chaplain for the Sherman District Parole Office, ministry volunteer for the Texas Youth Commission and Texas Department of Criminal Justice, a part-time pharmacist, and a full-time husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.