published Saturday, May 17th, 2014

Faith Focus: Guess what? We’re all getting old

By Pastor Bo Wagner

In 1975, Franki Valli and the Four Seasons sang a song titled “December, 1963 (Oh What A Night).” The old timers who are reading this already have the catchy tune starting to “doo doo doo doo doo” in their head, and even the younger readers would probably recognize it if it came on the radio.

I mention this because, a couple of months ago, a very good pastor friend of mine had knee replacement surgery. Right before he did, he invited me up to preach at his church’s Valentine’s banquet. Having a few days to prepare for it, I secured a copy of the song, rewrote the lyrics and surprised him and his church by singing it for them:

Oh, what a fright, four years old way back in ‘63, now I’ve got an artificial knee, next comes dentures, what a fright…

Oh, what a fright, you know I never felt such awful pain, and now my game will never be the same, I’ll warm the bench, oh what a fright…

Oh, I got a funny feeling when I walked in the room and I, as I recall, my cartilage was gone, much too soon…

Oh what a fright, anesthesiologist is drugging me, I’ll wake up, yeah, with a plastic knee, I surrender, what a fright…

I heard a pop like a clap of awesome thunder, here comes the surgeon, someone help I’m going under! Oh what a fright…”

It was hysterical. And it was made all the funnier by the realization that all of us, like him, are getting older. Soon most of us will be dealing with dentures, plastic joints and be getting solicitations from AARP.

None of us who continue living have any choice on whether or not we get old at some point. But all of us have a choice as to how we age. Specifically, I am thinking about the attitude we carry.

In Luke 9:54, John the beloved was so angry that he wanted to call fire down from heaven and destroy an entire city. His wrath was out of place, but it was also, I believe, the product of his impetuous youth. Many years later, as an old man up in his nineties, he said this in 1 John 4:7: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” He still spoke clearly against sin throughout the Johannine epistles, but though he still preached firmly and stood right, he had seemingly become very kind in his old age.

It is no surprise to me that the leaves on a tree are the most beautiful and vibrant in the autumn, just before they die and fall to the ground. That is, I think, God’s way of reminding us that getting old has to happen to all of us, but becoming the stereotypical “angry/short-tempered geezer” most certainly does not.

Smile, laugh, love, and be pleasant. And if your laughter causes you to spit your dentures out, put them back in and smile and laugh and love some more.

Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, N.C., and the author of several books which are available at www.wordofhismouth.com. Contact him at 2knowhim@cbc-web.org.

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