Wasn't it just a few short years ago, when the mop top quartet from Liverpool took the world by storm, leading the musical British Invasion here in America? Remember how we rode the bus downtown on Saturday morning and checked out all the new 45's at Davidson's Record Store? Wasn't it just yesterday when we danced to "I Saw Her Standing There" and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" at the sock hops in the Jr. High gym? It seems that way, but alas, 1963 was nearly FIVE DECADES ago. With apologies to my friend, Joe McKeever (the youngest septuagenarian I know) it just doesn't seem possible that Ringo Starr is 70. What seems even stranger is that this is the year when we three Adkins brothers will be 60, 55, and 50! Where has the time gone?
Those frozen moments of time from our childhood or teenage years that dot our memories , have a way of lulling us into a false sense of "forever young". The hard truth is that we are all getting older, and these bodies (as we all understand) are simply transitory.
Back in the 60's, some of us never entertained the thought that The Beatles wouldn't always be around. But things change. People change. Relationships change. Time changes all of us. Even after the break up of the super group, some felt that they might one day all get back together. But it didn't happen. John Lennon was gunned down by a mentally deranged character in front of his apartment building in New York City, and George Harrison died of cancer. Those, along with the earlier deaths of stars like Janis Joplin, Jimmie Hendricks, and Jim Morrison, all served to shock my generation into the stark reality of our mortality. And now, seemingly overnight, those of us who survived the 60's and 70's are quickly entering the Medicare and Social Security benefit years. How is it possible?
The 90th Psalm (the only Psalm attributed to Moses' authorship) speaks eloquently about the eternal quality of God, and the frailty of we mortals.
"Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth,or ever you had formed the earth and the world,from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.
You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers...
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble;they are soon gone, and we fly away..." (ESV)
We are reminded by the writer, James in the New Testament that our lives are "a vapor, that appears for a short while and then vanishes away."
So how do we deal with such a sobering truth? Shall we despair at the fleeting days of our lives and spend the twilight years mourning the loss of our youth? Or should we sit around wishing we had the good old days back again?
Even though the years are quickly passing, and we cannot get them back... even though we have seen war, tragedy and pain in our generation... there is hope. There is still work for us to do. There is time to focus on what is most important. Verse 12 of Psalm 90 is a poignant reminder:
"So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."
Sage advice to my generation, as well as those who are much younger, would best be summed up in the concluding verses of that 90th Psalm. Let us join our hearts with Moses as he prays:
"Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. Let your work be shown to your servants,and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!"
So, although it is not likely he'll be reading my blog today, I would like to wish Ringo a happy 70th birthday. He's had quite a ride in this life. I pray that, even as a septuagenarian, if he hasn't hasn't experienced the New Birth, that he might hear the call of God today. As a wise man once said, "Only one life soon will pass; only what is done for Christ will last."