There’s a lot of talk in the political world about being too old. We complain that senators and members of congress, the president and his chief rival, are too old to be doing what they are doing. Some think there ought to be a law against people who are too old running for elected office. I am not much for another law, but I get the point.
I had a birthday this week and am now two years past what the polls say is the most preferred upper age limit for candidates. Assuming no law passes before then, feel free to vote for me in next year’s presidential election, but I should warn you that I will decline to serve if elected. It’s not so much that I think I am too old to be president (I am), as it is that I am in the wrong season of life to be president. Or member of congress or senator or highway department commissioner.
The great J.I. Packer wrote his last book nine years ago at age 88. He died at 94 having lost most of his eyesight but not his keen intellect and abiding Christian faith. That last book, all 99 pages of it, is one of his best, and he wrote many very good books. Finishing Our Course With Joy is about growing old and the seasons of old age. For his purposes he describes younger old age as ages 65-75, medium old age as 75-85, and oldest old age as 85 plus. He had made the journey into oldest old age by the time he wrote the book. I am past the half-way point of young old age. I am getting close to being old! I am old.
Packer’s description of growing old is sometimes poignant, occasionally sad, but always rooted in the joy of knowing and being known by Christ. Packer says the seasons of old age are marked by looking back and looking forward. They include continuing to serve and allowing ourselves to be served. As our bodies wear out, we are reminded of, and all the more anticipate, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
Yes, we continue to serve and work, to produce and give, as we age – and as we are able. But no longer as president or full-time pastor; now as grandparent and coach or mentor. Now as a volunteer, thankful for the ability and privilege to give without regard to job title or income.
I am not so concerned that we are governed or hope to be governed by people older than I am – though I think that is a problem. I am sad for those old people who want to be senator or president, member of congress or highway commissioner, out of season. They are missing this good season of old age. Yes, as the Apostle says, “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV)
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. I had a birthday this week. It is a very good season to be alive. Just not president.