On Turning 65…

Posted by on Jul 17, 2022 in Blog | 9 comments

person lighting the sparklers

Well, the title is a give away. This week I turned 65. No matter how hard you try to massage it, that’s pretty sobering. You know it because some try to gently tell you that 65 is the new 55 – but since when has 55 been a deeply desirable age? Others console you that you are “only” half way through the 60’s, presumably not realising you are struggling to accept they have started. Yet others reassure you that age is a matter of the mind, and you are only as old as you think you are – which is fair enough until you look in the mirror and it gives its own less than subtle reply. The simple truth is, by the time you read this, I will be closer to 70 than I am to 60, which possibly explains why I am not invited to speak at youth events as often as I once was.

So what are my 65 year old thoughts?

First there are the obvious. Where have the years gone? How can Rosemary and I have been married for almost 42 years? How come do I have a 36 year old son and a daughter aged 33 and a youngest child of 28 – all of them married? And how can I be the grandfather of 3 and… well, the years add up. Psalm 90:12 says: “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” It’s not wrong to ask these questions, for they remind us to keep track of our journey through life. Chapters end, new ones begin. For me, the early marriage, early career, raising children chapter is done and I am grateful – for it has been a wonderful journey, not because I am anything special but because God is kind.

One of the units I have taught through the years explores the provision of pastoral care in the different stages of life. There is a debate as to when old age begins – older texts suggest anything from 55-65, more recent ones propose from 60-75 and usually distinguish between early old age, middle old age and then put a positive spin on the final stage by noting that as only some make it this far, those who do should celebrate! Furthermore, they remind us that as with most stages in life, it is experienced differently by people depending on health, relationships, state of mind and wealth. If you have your health, are happy and in good relationship with others you might well be in a better position at 90 than someone who hasn’t, but is 60. Surprisingly, some research suggests that people are happiest in their 80’s – which is heartening, as I am perfectly happy right now… so if it gets even better, what’s the problem? Well there isn’t one, is there?

I guess my only concern is if I will still be able to make some useful contribution to life. For those who are interested in the Enneagram, I am a type 3 – so being able to do and achieve things matters to me. At the moment, that is not an issue. I have my hand in a fair few pies, and love the range and variety offered. For me the challenge is to know who I am when I am not active. A Bible verse I have always struggled with is “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). I have had a few times when I have experienced this deeply, but mostly, it has been in the “one day” basket. My spiritual director has suggested I embrace this idea more deeply, and I don’t doubt his wisdom.

There are some things I am committed to not becoming. I don’t want to be one of those nostalgic nuisances who edit out all the problems of the past and pretend that it was always better back then. My experience is that life is a mixed bag – some things better, some not, but on the whole, I am pretty positive about the future. This is God’s world – always has been, always will be – so I am more than confident that God has the future covered.

I also want to keep facing towards life, not away from it. Everything is interesting. I might not always be able to keep up – but I can certainly have a go.

I want to be a little kinder to others. I have been around long enough to know that life is precious, but often does not go to plan. Kindness is almost never a bad response, and is certainly better than judgement. The older I get the more I understand why Jesus taught us not to judge (Matt 7:1-5) and find I am both happier and more useful when I heed His instruction.

I have used a few life expectancy calculators and depending on which I have chosen, am informed that I am likely to live to between 92-97 years. True, it all depends on how you answer the questions (pretend you do lots of exercise), and I have figured out how to do really well on these tests, but by and large I am told to expect to be around for perhaps another 30 years. Actually, it that turns out to be true, that is a long time. So what does it mean to number my days to gain a heart of wisdom? I suspect it means living with my hands wide open to whatever God wants to place in them, and whatever that is, I know I am invited to trust the goodness and mercy of God. And actually that is true regardless of if you are 65, 95 or 25. For me life’s greatest discovery is that I don’t have to journey it alone… for I have greatly loved family, and friends. But even more, I have one who has promised, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).

So roll on the balance of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s all the way to whatever number is finally the last, for knowing that Jesus is always with me, (and always means always, not sometimes) – well it changes everything, doesn’t it?

As always, nice chatting…

Photo by Marina Utrabo on Pexels.com

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9 Comments

  1. Thanks Brian. As a 63 year old I share your sentiments. I look forward to the remaining years hopeful of making a positive contribution to others.

    • Good to hear from you Phillip. These last few years have been very fruitful ones for you and you make a significant difference to many.

  2. Comment *As someone closer to 66 than you but still 65 after all, its not a bad age to be. Life continues to get better. Happy birthday by the way.

  3. The 6th decade for me was one of growth, experiences that were both devastating and wonderful, opportunity to do things I never dreamt of and making a contribution to the Lord’s people as well as growing closer to the Lord we serve. I am about to exit my 7th decade and have learnt about publishing – 3 books – which is Ellis (my husband’s) legacy. Physically the deterioration has set in but am grateful my mind seems to be intact – for that I am grateful to God.
    My heart’s desire is that in the years that remain, I may make a contribution to God’s kingdom and his people that they will come to love him more and know better.

    • So great that you continue to pour so much into life and wonderful that Ellis will continue to inspire others through his books.

  4. Comment *Hi Brian you might remember me and my husband Neil Morrison we went to Mt Roskill Baptist and I have listened to your sermon Jacob the chosen everyday for 10 years! Well sadly For me Neil went to be with the Lord on the 17th . He is getting our home ready and we so hope to have you and Rosemary as neighbours up there. I could then listen to you everyday again. Sadly my Jacob the chosen tape finally broke from rewinding. Enjoy your next 30 years happy belated
    Pam

    • Hi Pam. I certainly remember you as well as the wonderful cinnamon rolls you made. Never tasted any as good as yours. Very sorry to hear of Neil’s passing. As you rightly say, he is now with the Lord, but it is always hard to say goodbye. Rosemary and my prayers are with you in this sad season.

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