In January, I asked my boss who is a few months older than I what it was like to reach the 51 year mark and experience midlife crisis. His response: he’s not experiencing midlife crisis, but end of life crisis. Today, I turned 51. As I rub cerebral Bengay into my out-of-whack cognitive joints, let the sympathy cards flow in.
Some men resort to mistresses, while others resort to sports cars in coping with such crises. Regardless that some might quip I cannot afford either option (nor am I interested), what I really cannot afford is aging poorly. I hope to age well.
Those who age poorly are like the rich fool in Jesus’ parable, who builds bigger and bigger barns to store his possessions (Luke 12:13-21). Whether it is wealth or titles or acclaim or whatever, we easily get possessive the older we get so as to maintain some semblance of control and longevity and live it up before all is gone. However, if we are not rich before God, do not bear the title of God’s servant and child, and are not known by God (regardless of how many others know us), what good will it do us? It will all be for naught. Here’s what Jesus has to say:
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:13-21; ESV).
One does not have to be at midlife or end of life to be like the rich fool, but it does not get any easier the older one gets. Those who age well move from becoming possessive and possessed to sharing with people and giving others opportunities to flourish. They move from the compulsion to get to a compelling freedom to give because they realize that God has given them the kingdom. Holy fools, unlike rich or poor fools no matter the age, are free of anxiety because they know deep down inside that God cares for them and will meet their deepest needs and longings (Luke 12:22-31). They can share their possessions because the Ancient of Days has given them a lasting inheritance in his kingdom:
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also(Luke 12:32-34).
No matter how old we get, may we become younger and younger of heart with moneybags that do not grow old. All those shiny flings and shiny machines that people invest in as time goes on will wear out in time, too. We don’t have time to mess around or age poorly. Like old wine and holy fools, may we age well.