Like a ‘Vapor’

“Don’t resent growing old. Many are denied the privilege.”

Ancient wisdom from the sage of his time, Solomon’s insight offers a window into this earthly passage, “Life is fleeting, like a passing mist. It is like trying to catch hold of a breath; all vanishes like a vapor.”

Fifty years ago that verse was more ethereal. Today, it’s where the rubber meets the road. Like a slow train coming, suddenly speeding into the station, ahead of schedule. And you’re not ready. With Advent Season beckoning Christmas, it’s a time of Great Joy celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Though we repine death, it honors no holiday.

Most of us have heard the old bromide, “Had I known I was going to live this long, I would’ve taken better care of myself.” Would we? Hospitals, senior centers and hospices are havens for mortals whose lips may have repeated those cryptic words before their passing. Sadly, millions belatedly see the wisdom of taking better care of this earthen vessel we occupy.

Fearing the inevitability of our lethal enemy, some indefatigably pursue that mythical fountain of youth. Tales of such a fountain have continued for millennia, appearing in the writings of Herodotus. Others have great genes and long-haul DNA. It’s a metaphor for increasing longevity, trying to retain a youthful appearance long beyond the natural aging process.

Nothing wrong with eating healthy, physical exercise, and reducing stress in one’s life. It’s laudable. It isn’t, however, a free pass for extended life. Some are convinced, when your number is up; the clock stops. Ultimately, God is the Superintendent of the clock

A kernel of wisdom to our youthful male counterparts - that cute cheerleader you court today, someday won’t fit into that skimpy little outfit, unless it’s made of spandex. And girls, that “hunk” you have in your sights, someday will, most likely, be more of a “chunk’ who has lost his waistline, hairline, muscles, manners and more. Women who formerly compared their curves to an “hour glass” now speak in lamentable terms that “time’s running out.” Men, most everything shrinks except our ears, belly, nose and vanity. Many somehow compensate. Some opt for new make-up, baggier clothes, a “comb-over,” a “new ‘do” or flashy sports car. Others just lean back and enjoy it. Bless them. Their numbers are scant. Most fight that mirror to the end.

Deteriorating looks and failing body parts accompany the aging process. We awake one day and apparently gravity has visited overnight. Things are never the same.

Actually, it sort of sneaks up on us. There are many factors that shape our latter years such as genetics, lifestyle, health, eating and a propensity for sedentary habits. One sage octogenarian opined, “old age just comes at a bad time.” We may consider it as a vessel to navigate the final stage in our earthly pilgrimage, offering our seasoned wisdom to a younger generation. Some cultures revere the elderly; others tolerate us.

With the unanticipated interloper of 2020, COVID-19, though unpredictable, albeit deadly, many of us likely know someone whose life was cut short by this viral assailant. Someone sagely observed, “Don’t resent growing old. Many are denied the privilege.” A charmed life can suddenly go south.

Finding the appropriate perspective for aging serves as a balm to many of our generation. The Scriptures play a pivotal role in balancing the rigors of life, with that of the external versus the internal. 2 Corinthians 4:16, speaks of that, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”

“The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” Consider Woody Allen’s comedic view, “I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there.” Who does?

The rigors of this life and aging are inseparable. There’s no assurance of the length of our days. It is, however, unconscionable to think that our culture has been so easily duped into this cavalier proposition of a life of uninterrupted comfort, and other vile options like assisted suicide and “death with dignity.” For we who cling tenaciously to the sanctity of life, it’s untenable to consider suicide in any form.

To avoid being a Curmudgeon, Trust God alone, be thankful, and embrace life with vigor. Because “it’s like a vapor” that evanesces before one’s eyes.