As I approached another “it-can’t-already-be-my-birthday” birthday, my son asked me if I felt old. A simple yes or no wouldn’t do. Here is what I said:
In certain circumstances, if I were to be standing, say, fourth in a line of a thousand people at some particular venue, first reactions might be something like, “that’s a pretty good spot that fella’s got there.” And, of course, I’d be feeling mighty satisfied looking back at the sulking masses behind me. On the other hand, what if the line I’m in is only four people long? All of a sudden my fourth slot is not so special, and I’m likely as impatient as a fool can be.
Naturally, one’s perspective would also depend on what we’re all standing around in line for. In other words, where does the line lead? If it’s to the dentist’s chair, grown men will fight you for the back of the line. But suppose this is the line for those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior—you just knew I was getting to that! Suppose this line goes straight to Heaven, and I, or you, are a mere four souls away. I find that comforting, don’t you?
I also find it comforting that the Bible says the life of every mortal is ordered by date of departure, the specifics of which only God knows: “A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed” (Job 14:5) and, “My times are in your hands…” (Psalm 31:15). As God’s children, we don’t need to know the date to understand that the advantage is all to the one toward the front.
Now it goes without saying that we are all moving further from when we first were born and closer to the end when we will die—nevertheless, there you go, I said it. But it is apparently not so self-evident to nonbelievers (or if it is, it is of no pressing concern) that to move day by day closer to the front of the line in which they stand is not such a swell place to be, and will only get worse if they don’t have a change of heart soon (see Mt 25:46; Rom 6:23; 2 Th 1:8-9). All this to say, to a Christian, things are different. Getting older and moving up the line means moving up in stature, nearer to seeing God’s face, closer to receiving a new body. Yes, for those who are God’s aging children, this is the line to Paradise. All would do well to be in it.
But I don’t think I’ve answered your question, son. So I will now try. There are two types of inquiry—all the rest being derivatives thereof—that will one day recur in your own mind to prove to yourself that you are getting old: “Why am I limping, and what are my reading glasses doing in the bread drawer?” And the answers are: “I don’t know, and I have no idea, but I’m sure if it’s important, God will tell me soon enough.”
“So is that a yes?” my son asked.
I hope this encourages you to embrace moving up the line today.
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