Posted by: Diane | November 27, 2012

It’s How..Not How Long

I read a magazine article during breakfast and then I read the Bible during my Quiet Time -what an eye-opening contrast on the topic of aging.

According to Macleans, the largest study of centenarians (people living 100 years of age or more)  in the world has shattered the myth that genetics alone account for advanced old age.

“Centenarians tend to fall into three groups. Just 15 per cent reach 100 years with no clinical evidence of disease. We call them ‘escapers,’ Perl writes in an overview of the studies. Another 43 per cent are ‘delayers,’ those who don’t acquire age-related diseases until at least 80 years. Another 42 per cent are ‘survivors,’ whose earlier bouts with cancer, heart issues or other age-related diseases have not significantly curtailed their lifespans.”

The research reveals characteristics of those likely to reach 100. Among the predictors:

– few centerarians are obese.

– a long history of smoking is rare.

– at least half of centenarians have immediate family that lived to a very old age.

– children of centenarians tend to follow a parent’s path to a longer life and, like them, tend to be extroverts who are able to handle stress with little evidence of neurosis.

– 85 per cent of centenarians are women.

So says Science. It’s nice to know that the length of my days isn’t purely based on genetics but from my perspective, the focus of this world seems to be how old we grow, rather than how we grow old. Why is it that we need to escape, delay or survive aging? Why can’t we wisely prepare for and embrace aging?

In contrast, I just happen to be reading Ecclesiastes 12 this morning  – a very different perspective on aging. I had never read this graphic passage of scripture before.

Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young, Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes, Before your vision dims and the world blurs and the winter years keep you close to the fire. In old age, your body no longer serves you so well. Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints suffer. The shades are pulled down on the world. You can’t come and go at will. Things grind to a half. The hum of the household fades away. You are wakened now by bird-song. Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past. Even a stroll down the road has its terrors. Your hair turns apple-blossom white, Adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body. Yes, you’re well on your way to eternal rest, While your friends make plans for your funeral. 

Life, lovely while it lasts, is soon over. Life as we know it, precious and beautiful, ends. The body is put back in the same ground it came from. The spirit returns to God, who first breathed it.  The Message

The Bible encourages us to focus on how (character, attitude, loving others, healthy mindset and choices, hope, enjoying God) to live when we are young because there is a reality that our physical body slowly wears out as we get older, yet we live out our days in this dying shell. This is truth. Science may be declaring that we can live on this earth for a long time, feel and look good but scripture clearly says otherwise.

I want to live out my days in a way that comunicate this belief  – How I live when I am young prepares me for how I will live when I am old.

I desire to live joyously and responsibly in the fear of the Lord. I desire to live a righteous life that will take me graciously into my old age.

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.  Proverbs 16. 31 ESV

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.                       Psalm 92. 12 -15 ESV

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