The Bright Side of Growing Older
‘And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday; thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning.’—Job xi. 17.
I SUPPOSE nobody ever did naturally like the idea of getting older, after they had at least ‘left school.’ There is a sense of oppression and depression about it. The irresistible, inevitable onward march of moments and years without the possibility of one instant’s pause—a march that, even while on the uphill side of life, is leading to the downhill side—casts an autumn-like shadow over even many a spring-birthday; for perhaps this is never more vividly felt than when one is only passing from May to June,—sometimes earlier still. But how surely the Bible gives us the bright side of everything! In this case it gives three bright sides of a fact, which, without it, could not help being gloomy.
1 Isa. Ixiv. 5. 2 Num. xxiii. 19. 3 jsa. xxvi. 8.
First, it opens the sure prospect of increasing brightness to those who have begun to walk in the light. Even if the sun of our life has reached the apparent zenith, and we have known a very noonday of mental and spiritual being, it is no poetic ‘western shadows’ that are to lengthen upon our way, but ‘our age is to be clearer than the noonday.’1 How suggestive that word is! The light, though intenser and nearer, shall dazzle less; ‘in Thy light shall we see light,’2 be able to bear much more of it, see it more clearly, see all else by it more clearly, reflect it more clearly. We should have said, ‘At evening-time there shall be shadow ;’ God says, ‘At evening-time there shall be light.’3
Also we are not to look for a very dismal afternoon of life with only some final sunset glow; for He says it’ shineth more and more unto the perfect day ; ‘* and ‘more and more ‘ leaves no dark intervals; we are to expect a continually brightening path. ‘The future is one vista of brightness and blessedness’ to those who are willing only ‘ to walk in the light.’
1 Job xi. 17. 2 Ps. xxxvi. 9. ^ Zech. xiv. 7. ^ Prov. iv. 18.
Just think, when you are seven, or ten, or twenty years older, that will only mean seven, or ten, or twenty years’ more experience of His love and faithfulness, more light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; and still the ‘more and more unto the perfect day,’1 will be opening out before us! We are ‘confident of this very thing ! ‘2
The second bright side is increasing fruitfulness. Do not let us confuse between works and fruit. Many a saint in the land of Beulah is not able to do anything at all, and yet is bringing forth fruit unto God beyond the busiest workers. So that even when we come to the days when ‘the strong men shall bow themselves,’3 there may be more pleasant fruits for our Master, riper and fuller and sweeter, than ever before. For ‘they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; ‘* and the man that simply ‘ trusteth in the Lord’ ‘shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.’5
Some of the fruits of the Spirit seem to be especially and peculiarly characteristic of sanctified older years; and do we not want to bring them all forth? Look at the splendid ripeness of Abraham’s ‘faith’ in his old age; the grandeur of Moses’ ‘meekness,’ when he went up the mountain alone to die; the mellowness of St. Paul’s ‘joy’ in his later epistles; and the wonderful ‘gentleness’ of St. John, which makes us almost forget his early character of ‘a son of thunder,’ wanting to call down God’s lightnings of wrath. And ‘the same Spirit’ is given to us, that we too may bring forth ‘fruit that may abound,’6 and always ‘ more fruit.’7
1 Prov. iv. 18. 2 Phil, i, 6. SEccles. xii. 3. 4 Ps. xcii. 14.
6 Jer. xvii. 7, 8. « phii. iy. 17. ? John xv. 2.
The third bright side is brightest of all: ‘Even to your old age, I am He;’1 always the same Jehovah-Jesus; with us ‘ all the days,’ bearing and carrying us ‘ ail the days;’ reiterating His promise —’ even to hoar hairs will I carry you . . . ; even I will carry and will deliver you,’2 just as He carried the lambs in His bosom.3 For we shall always be His little children, and ‘doubtless ‘* He will always be our Father. The rush of years cannot touch this!
Fear not the westering shadows,
O Children of the Day!
For brighter still and brighter,
Shall be your homeward way.
Resplendent as the morning,
With fuller glow and power,
And clearer than the noonday,
Shall be your evening hour.