There is a lovely story of a little girl sitting on her Grandpa’s lap. As she sat there she kept touching her face with the tips of her fingers. “Grandpa who made my face?” The little girl asked. “Why, God did.” He replied. She then started touching her Granddad’s wrinkled face, after some time she asked, “Grandpa, who made your face?” Her Granddad smiled and said, “God did, a long time ago!” After reflecting on this for a while the little girl said, “I think he’s getting better at it!” I love that!
I’m not so sure you can gauge how old someone is by the condition of their skin; I think a better measure is the condition of their heart. For example in a few days we will be celebrating my mum’s 80th birthday. What amazes me about mum is that she has a heart of a 20 year old; she has a real zest for life, and breathes life wherever she goes. On the other hand I meet folk who according to their date of birth are still relatively young but being around them is a very different experience. What is the difference? I guess it has something to do with the condition of their heart. A few weeks back I came across this poem entitled ‘Youth’ by Samuel Ullman. I wonder what you’ll make of it.
Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigour of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life. Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of
60 more than a boy of 20. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.
Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust. Whether 60 or 16, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station: so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the Infinite, so long are you young. When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at 20, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at 80.
So are you young or old? My prayer is that each of us will reflect on this and on these words from Psalm 90:12
Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.