“I have to grow older, but I don’t have to grow old.”
When I heard these words for the first time, it was from a Christian who looked very old to my (then) seventeen year old eyes. From every visual indicator, one would have to say this man looked “old” so his expression was very cryptic to me.
Over time, I truly understand this expression better and better. Growing older is a product of the sin “virus” infecting all of humanity (cf. Genesis 3): we’re all infected with this terminal disease and it will kill us eventually. At the same time, a Christian doesn’t have to grow “old” in their hearts or mindsets.
Listen to the conclusion of Psalm 92 (verses 12-15):
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
I fear too many Christians forget this part of their Bible as we age. We grow older and grow old in the process. We can start looking at the world through jaded and skeptical eyes, concerned more with preserving the past than reaching for the future.
We quickly forget that at one point, we were “the young ones” pushing to the next level. If we’re not careful, we find ourselves looking down on the generations standing on our shoulders reaching again. Scripture declares we’re not this way.
Instead, we have added value as we age. We gain wisdom, experience, and a history of relying on the Lord. The old are “fresh and green”—not just the younger ones! The Lord never designed a generation to operate apart from its parents and grandparents. Nor did He design the parents and grandparents to halt the march of progress they themselves pushed so hard to create.
As we age we should be able to declare even louder of the goodness and faithfulness of our God! One of the greatest “old guys” I know is so full of wisdom in many areas, and this is certainly one of them. He has a steady, calm way of going through life because he knows the Lord will take care of him because he’s had nearly eight decades to experience it.
And although he has his share of health problems and aches and pains, he is vibrant in his faith.
Therefore I agree: I have to grow older, but I don’t have to grow old.
How about you?