Although I'm not yet 60, there are some days that I feel like I'm getting old. My knees make funny clicking noises when I walk up the front steps, and sometimes going up the stairs to my office in the house is not real easy.
My wife says to me every once in a while, "Well, we are getting old!"
On Oct. 3, there was a column in the Times-Gazette in which Jim Davis gathered responses to the question, "At what age do you get old and what can't you do at that age?" He had asked this of third grade students at Thomas Magnet School, and their answers confirmed my worst fears: I am old!
Kendell Trice said, "You are old when you turn 50. It's hard for you to breathe when you get to be 50."
Well, according to Mister Trice, I have been old for a while now, and yes, there are days when I have a hard time breathing. But, I do thank God for the breath I do have.
His classmate, Conner Brown, said, "You are old at 56. You don't have much energy, you cannot play football really; you do not have the ability to do much of anything when you get to be 56-years-old."
Oh, come on fellas, you are not very encouraging to this 58 year old man (emphasis on "old" man).
But then I read the response from Gabriel Adams (my hero), who said, "There really isn't an age that you get old. You can do things at any age that you want to do if you really want to do them."
I appreciate his optimism. I hope he thinks that way when he is my age.
There is a gospel song that was written in 1914, by then Mercer Seminary student, James C. Moore, about this age old concern of getting old.
Moore had returned from a weekend of ministry at his home church in rural Georgia with his father's failing singing voice on his mind. His dad had been the song leader at the Baptist church for years but he didn't have that good strong voice that James remembered anymore. He came to the realization that his father was getting old.
As he sat in his room at Mercer, he wrote: "I have heard of a land on the far away strand, 'tis a beautiful home of the soul; built by Jesus on high, where we never shall die, 'tis a land where we never grow old."
The refrain says, "Never grow old, never grow old, in a land where we'll never grow old; never grow old, never grow old, in a land where we'll never grow old."
Mercer's song continues, "When our work here is done and the life crown is won, and our troubles and trials are o'er; all our sorrow will end, and our voices will blend, with the loved ones who've gone on before. Never grow old, never grow old, in a land where we'll never grow old; never grow old, never grow old, in a land where we'll never grow old."
The Apostle John wrote about that land in Revelation 21, a land known in the Bible as Heaven. In verse 4, John wrote that in Heaven, " God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
For Christians, our heavenly home is something that we long for. Here in this life there is sorrow and tears, and yes, we do get old and we experience pain, and ultimately death. But we are promised an eternal life free of those things in a land where we never grow old.
I heard James C. Moore's song sung at a service in a nursing home recently. As I looked around the room at the faces of the people there, I saw hope in their eyes; smiles on those faces; and most of them were singing along.
Just about everybody gathered in that room that day was old by Mr. Trice's estimation. Some were seated in their wheel chairs, others holding onto their walkers, but everyone, no matter their age or physical condition, was being reminded of a place of unending joy, hope and comfort. That land where we'll never grow old.
-- Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.