Let’s start with this short story. A medical student was shocked when he received a failing grade in radiology. Approaching the professor, he demanded to know the reason for the grade. “Do you remember the X-ray you took of yourself?” asked the professor. “I do,” said the student. “A fine picture,” the professor said, “of your lungs, stomach, and liver.” “If it’s a fine picture, then why did you give me an F?” asked the student. “I had no choice,” said the professor. “You didn’t put your heart into it.”
On August 23, 2019, I’ve been alive for seventy years. I’ve never been this age before. My childhood here in Phoenix, Arizona, seems like it was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away. There were still dinosaurs alive when I was born. Recently I went to an antique show and people started bidding on me. My retirement to-do list has just one thing to do; wake up. I’ve survived the 60’s twice. My doormat says, “Knock slowly. I’m putting on my pants.”
When I look up into the sky, I have no idea which cloud holds all my data. Being cremated is my last hope for a smoking, hot body. When did my wild oats turn into shredded wheat? I run like the winded. My stomach is flat. The ‘L’ is just silent. When I drive to the store, my wife is thinking, “My soulmate is out there somewhere pushing a pull door.”
As I observe people, I can’t believe how old some people my age are. That’s not criticism, just observation. I understand some have major health issues, things that have happened in life, physical work, genetics, and the like, that could make anyone look older than they are.
Allow me to share a recent "Aha!" someone noticed about me in this stage of my life. Whether young or old, this revelation could transform the way you think or even look. It’s one thing to be seventy years old and another to be seventy years young.
Recently, I traveled to South Africa for three weeks of speaking engagements. I spoke in seven different cities from the top to the bottom of South Africa in the business, education, and church meetings. One Saturday, I spoke five times in formal presentations from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, excluding our lunch and dinner times. I presented some twenty-plus times on the trip.
It seemed like everyone kept asking me, “How old are you?” “You have so much energy. You are relevant and contemporary. You inspire us. This is different. You are creating personal revivals inside us. You’re pointing us forward. You are in your early sixty’s, right?” Please understand the people said this, not me. When I am speaking in Singapore, the English-speaking Chinese guess I am in my late fifties. So far, I have been traveling by stealth as far as my age.
On my trip, a man was trying to guess my age. I told him I was turning seventy soon. That surprised him. Then he said something I will never forget. It shook me. It changed me. It was like he handed me a key of life I had never seen before in the way I see now.
Here’s what he said. “I know why you are the way you are, looking, thinking and speaking younger than your age. You look forward. You think forward. You’re not retreating, you’re advancing. You still have things to do and you know it.” I didn’t know I was doing that. He gave me words, articulating a real, quality of life principle. Here’s the principle. Barring very difficult health or life difficulties, a key to finding some gold in the golden years is to keep facing forward and looking forward. I think many older people quit looking and thinking forward, moving into a survive rather than thrive mode. Like the story that started this article, they quit putting their heart into life.
I love it when people have heart, especially older people. They accomplish more, they persevere, look up, live up, and perform up, even in the hard times. Many times, the difference between abundant life and abundant strife is heart. Older people, maybe you aren’t what you used to physically, but you can still have heart. And younger people, look forward, engage life with heart, finish strong, and even when you are older, you will feel younger.
Jesus had heart. He said, “The food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work He started.” Jesus was born to accomplish an incredible mission and He loved it. He raised the dignity of people. He healed them physically, emotionally and spiritually. He loved them to the point of dying for them. Even at the end of His life, Jesus kept facing forward.
What’s the takeaway here? We can’t live on someone else’s forward-facing heart. The best way for you to face forward is to set an achievable deadline for yourself and put your heart into it. You will find the deadline you set is really a lifeline to life. It might even restore some of your youth.
You see that? I can still tell you a thing or two about a thing or two. Ed Delph, August 12, 2019 CCC [All one liners easily accessed on the internet.]