“The Fear of Growing Old”

On February 24, Pastor Jim preaches on Ecclesiastes 12:1-8.

1 Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come, and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return with the rain; 3 in the day when the guards of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the women who grind cease working because they are few, and those who look through the windows see dimly; 4 when the doors on the street are shut, and the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low; 5 when one is afraid of heights, and terrors are in the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along and desire fails; because all must go to their eternal home, and the mourners will go about the streets; 6 before the silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is broken, and the pitcher is broken at the fountain, and the wheel broken at the cistern, 7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath returns to God who gave it. 8 Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher; all is vanity.

I like to think of myself as middle-aged, but that’s only true if I plan to live to 116; possible, I suppose, though not probable.

From my perspective, we live in a culture obsessed with youth. My mind flashes back to images of my 12-year-old sister and her friend tanning themselves in the sun, each with cucumber slices over their eyes. A buddy of mine was present and made the comment, “What are you two trying to do, look younger?”  Maybe so.

This obsession with youth is nothing new. As the old preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes famously said in Ch. 1:8 , “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” This has been my observation over the years.

I love the way the author describes aging as “the guards of the house tremble, and the strong men are bet, and the women who grind cease working because they are few.” I’m not sure about the guards or the strong men; some say they represent the legs and arms, but the grinding women appear to represent teeth.

“The sound of the grinding is low.” Is this progressive deafness? “One rises with the sound of a bird.” (Gosh, I wish I could sleep in like I used to.) The blossoming of the almond tree may represent gray hair, and the grasshopper dragging its body around may represent the general weariness of old age or, as the next few lines indicate, the loss of desire. A-hem…

Are you afraid of growing old? We’ll think together about that on Sunday. I’ll be looking for you…through my reading specs!  🙂