Old couple sitting on a bench. Lives well-lived.

A Life Well Lived

A friend of the late American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes asked him why he had taken up the study of Greek at the age of 94. Holmes replied, “Well, my good sir, it’s now or never.”

When J. C. Penney was 95 years old, he affirmed, “My eyesight may be getting weaker, but my vision is increasing.”

Growing old can be dangerous. The trail is treacherous, and the pitfalls are many. One is wise to be prepared. You know it’s coming. It’s not like God kept the process a secret. It’s not like you are blazing a trail as you grow older. It’s not as if no one has ever done it before. Look around you. You have ample opportunity to prepare and ample case studies to consider. If growing old catches you by surprise, don’t blame God. He gave you plenty of warning. He also gave you plenty of advice.

“Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39).

“There are two ways to view life,” Jesus is saying, “as something to protect or something to pursue. The wisest people are not the ones with the most years in their lives, but the most life in their years.”

There is a rawness and a wonder to life. Pursue it. Hunt for it. Sell out to get it. Don’t listen to the whines of those who have settled for a second-rate life and want you to do the same so they won’t feel guilty. Your goal is not to live long; it’s to live.

Time slips. Days pass. Years fade. And life ends. And what we came to do must be done while there is time.

We would think it bizarre for a traveler not to be prepared for the end of the journey. We would pity the poor passenger who never read his itinerary. We’d be bewildered by someone who thought the purpose of the trip was the trip.

Others, however, are anticipating the destination. I hope you are. And I hope you’ll be ready when you get home. For you, age is no enemy. Age is a mile marker— a gentle reminder that home has never been so near.

Go Deeper

For further study, read Ecclesiastes 2:17-26 and consider these questions:

• Describe a person you know who has aged gracefully.
• Why do you think so many people fight the natural aging process?
• What are some fears people have about growing old?
• What criterion do you think we should use in looking back over a lifetime and evaluating its worth?
• What are the how-to’s for enjoying the life God gives us?
• Do you think old age gives you more or less ability to enjoy life?
• What do you fear most about aging? Why?
• What stage of life do you think is the best, and which is the most challenging? Why?
• What can we do when we feel discouraged about growing old?

By Max Lucado. Devotional from The Lucado Encouraging Word Bible, NIV Edition.

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