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Appreciating Old Age

Not everyone is ready to let go of the Olympic spirit yet. The summer Olympics finished up in August and the Paralympics have just concluded. Now a seniors’ home in Switzerland has held the Elderly Olympics.

Twelve retirement homes went together to organize the day consisting of five events: a slalom race for people with walkers, shooting basketball hoops, throwing darts, stacking plastic bricks and pounding nails into a log. The Olympic flame was lit by a 99-year-old woman. The oldest participant was 96. Gisele Chaignat, aged 95, won the darts competition with 570 points. 86-year-old Gilberte Chetelat managed to hammer 19 nails in two minutes.

Participants signed a pledge to compete without doping and without drugs but were thankfully allowed to stay on their medication. They took it seriously, and several of the participants were worried they didn’t have enough time to prepare even though they were selected six months ago.  Organizers declared the event a great success.

Western society has not always been kind to people of advanced age. Unlike many other cultures, the West favors the young. The elderly have not been given a place of worth or importance.

Scripture, however, places great value on the wisdom and insight that comes with grey hair. According to Job, “Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.” (Job 12:12) And Proverbs 20:29 says, “The glory of the young is their strength; the grey hair of experience is the splendour of the old.”

I just celebrated another birthday. The candles on my cake are now a fire hazard and there are more grey hairs poking out. I’ve also noticed some other changes that have come with aging.  I’m less interested with people’s resumes and have more of a desire to know their story. Their accomplishments don’t impress me as much as hearing about how they have handled life. No one gets through life without challenges and difficulties. The ones who can hold onto their faith and show continued growth in their relationship with God…those are the people I want to hear from. Those stories from experience are ones we need to encourage our hearts and strengthen our spirits.

I hope that when I’m in my nineties, I can still have fun shooting some basketball hoops with my friends at the retirement home. I also want to be like the Psalmist:

Now that I am old and grey,
do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim your power to this new generation,
your mighty miracles to all who come after me. Psalm 71:18

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