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Lean Thine Arm: Growing Old Gracefully

By Maxie Dunnam

 Psalms 90:1-12

In my last sermon, I talked about Parent Burnout. I told some of you that you would get equal time. Today, I'm talking about "growing old" -- growing old gracefully.

The truth is that this sermon is not just for one segment of the congregation; it's for all of us. We're all growing old. And as someone has said, "growing old is not so bad when you consider the alternative."

A 90-year-old was asked what he felt like when he woke up in the morning. He responded, "Surprised."

Now I know that you teenagers in the congregation will want to turn off right now when you know what I'm talking about, but you have grandparents. And you young adults, you'll be tempted to do the same: to turn off, because as far as the way you live from day to day and that with which you are preoccupied, you don't consider growing old. But I warn you--your day will come.

You know you're growing old when:

Your mind makes contracts your body can't fulfill;

You know all the answers, but nobody asks the questions;

You look forward to a dull evening;

You walk with your head held high trying to get used to your bifocals;

You turn out the light for economic reasons rather than romantic ones;

You sit in a rocking chair and you can't get it going;

Your knees buckle and your belt won't;

You regret all those decisions to resist temptation;

You're 17 around the neck, 42 around the waist, and

108 around the golf course.

And then someone made this observation: I find that one of the most disturbing aspects of aging is my growing inability to recall important information like the Greek alphabet, the gross national product of Lebanon, and where I left my glasses. This becomes particularly pronounced when I go upstairs to get something. Halfway up I realize that I have no inkling of what it is I'm going upstairs to get, so .... should I go back downstairs and try to remember what it is I needed, or should I continue up and look around for something that needs bringing down? Unable to decide, I resort to sitting on the landing, only to discover that after three minutes, I've completely forgotten whether I was originally upstairs going down .... or downstairs going up!

Well, I'm not sure that's the way I would want to define growing old, but it does make a suggestion, and that is that older people who enjoy a sense of humor get along far better than those who don't.

Growing old is inevitable. It's an unavoidable process that begins at birth. The question is how do we deal with it, how do we cope, how do we grow old gracefully?

I.Let's begin by looking at our scripture lesson again. I don't know how old the person was who wrote this psalm. In many translations of the Bible, this psalm has this inscription at the beginning: "A prayer of Moses, the man of God." If Moses wrote it, he had to have been old when he did. He didn't start the Exodus until he was in his eighties. It's a psalm about the eternity of God and the frailty of humankind.

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