BEING SIXTY

Actually I’m sixty-one. In some ways I feel like I’m twenty-five, and now that I have cut down on some of my vices, I can run like I did then. Well, maybe not, but I have to try, because I need to keep up with the young people who play on my baseball team, the San Quentin Prison Giants.
 
There are times when I feel much older than I am; those days are rare thankfully. The days I do not relish are coming though, like the day when I cannot play catch with a baseball anymore. But I will, by His grace, continue what I really like to do until the end, or close to it.
 
I’ve let go of some of the dreams and hopes I had when I was younger; many will never come to fruition. I would have loved to travel some, own my own home, have a boat, spend more time fishing and gardening, give myself to study and writing, and so on-- typical stuff for a guy like me.
 
My dad is eighty-nine, in failing health; my mother died long ago. My brother has a throat cancer (though clear of it now), and my old buddies from high school days have some serious aliments. People around me, family, friends, associates, brothers and sisters in Christ—some have died and I can see that others are heading in that direction. My world is shrinking little by little. The events of the world trouble me more than they used to. Stress has a greater effect on me than it used to. It seems that I experience one loss after another, too, loss of family members, friends, as well as the loss of some dreams and hopes.
 
People in my situation often give in to despair and depression. This is not uncommon. Others succumb to cynicism and bitterness, so much so they isolate themselves from their worlds. I see why in my younger years I perceived old folks to be a cranky lot. I don’t want this for myself.
 
My grandmothers were never cranky. They did not even seem old to me either. Both were vibrant Christians. Up until their very last days, they had a mission—always hoping to serve the Lord in some way if only in prayer. (And the ‘if only’ references quantity not quality.)  My dad still passes out Christian literature to the people who live around him and tries to get a witness in whenever he can. I want to be like them.
 
If I had never become a Christian, I would no doubt have thought the goal of my life was to be happy, healthy, and wealthy. And, like most who get confused about the purpose of living, I would probably become bitter and cynical; even if I had achieved some of the worldly fruits of living, they would self-destruct at some point. But God chose me, plucked me up and out of the stream that flows to that awful hell, and gave me a salvation along with a life long job to do. These gifts are mine forever. I may not have realized all the dreams and hopes I had in my youthful idealistic period, but I have Jesus and His commands and His commissions. By His grace, I will go forward with these, forgetting what lies behind, like those faithful saints who have gone before me.
 
I am going before someone, my children, my grandchildren, and all those who know me in some way—I have a task to carry out that will not be complete until my very last day. More losses are coming, more dreams and hopes will dissolve, but Jesus remains the same. I keep my eye on Him, I keep on the course, and the finish line is a little nearer now than it was before. The crowd is at the finish line; a trophy is being readied. Every inch of the way is precious and I hope to give it my all.

Kent Philpott
April, 2003

 

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