Sell-by dates on packages of food are a good idea. But I was surprised to hear a friend use expiration date terminology when referring to herself. She said she'd passed her use-by point when it came to returning to school to learn a new skill.
"I haven't studied in years, and I'm not sure I've got what it takes anymore to crack the books," she confessed.
The Bible suggests that more mature years should bring the opposite of decrepitude into our life. "Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age" (Ps. 92:13, 14).
Several years ago I was assigned by a West Coast newspaper to cover an 80th birthday party for former California senator George Murphy. He'd spent his early years in the movies as a singer and dancer, so many of his cronies from Hollywood turned out to help him celebrate.
As I roamed the ballroom at the big hotel in Beverly Hills, I spotted Bob Hope, Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, and many other famous faces. But because I'd grown up watching "The Beverly Hillbillies" on TV, I made a special point of going over to talk to Buddy (Jed Clampett) Ebsen, whom I hadn't seen in quite a while.
Very honestly, I expected him to reminisce about the good old days. But it turned out he was living very much in the present. He had all kinds of projects on the boil, including an exhibition of some of his paintings that he was very excited about.
We are, each one of us, God's very image. And we give evidence of all that God is. The eternal God doesn't wind down. So you and I can expect progress. Constructive activity. The fulfillment in our lives that we want to have.
Jesus promised that staying vital is in accord with God's will. He said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). This was about finding God's brand of perpetual goodness in life - not about watching the vitality slip away. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper in her 89th year, wrote a lot on this subject, including this: "Life is eternal. We should find this out, and begin the demonstration thereof. Life and goodness are immortal. Let us then shape our views of existence into loveliness, freshness, and continuity, rather than into age and blight" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 246).
When I recently paid my mother a visit halfway around the world, I was not only delighted by all of her interests and activities but shaken a bit out of my own lethargy. (She was even running her own business.) Frankly, my enthusiasm for life had been in need of a kick-start.
My mother quickly reminded me of many ways to find and enjoy signs of God's goodness in life. And she inspired me to find some for myself.
When I returned home, I signed up immediately for some adult education classes, and decided to increase my hours of volunteer work at the local primary school.
God's children - that's you and me - have the choice not to succumb to limitation and deterioration. We're not stamped with a use-by date - don't need to resign ourselves to the depressing conclusion that at some point our best days will be behind us. God unfolds only good things for His sons and daughters. Hourly. Continually.
and satisfy thy
soul in drought,
and make fat thy
bones: and thou
shalt be like a
and like a
spring of water,
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society