Last Saturday my 7 year old had flag football practice. At the end of practice the coach invited the dads who were present to play an impromptu scrimmage against the boys. It was all fun and games until on a routine flag grab I threw my lower back out. I pulled the flag, felt the muscles scream, and knew I would be spending the next several days in bed.
There’s a time in a person’s life when your body starts to go downhill and there’s very little you can do about it. For me it was about 35. I was working out at the gym in one of those classes where you pretend you’re fighting bad guys. It involved a lot of punching and kicking in the air. My wife and I loved it because we could get a lot of aggression out from whatever frustrations we had in the week. The only problem is I’m 6’5″ and have a lot of leg to be kicking around in the air. On one of the kicks I felt my lower back muscles cry out in pain, but at that time in my life I didn’t care. When you’re younger you can push through pain and be reasonably okay. What I didn’t realize was I no longer “younger”, but now in the “older” category. When I went home that night I could barely move. I spent the next week in the bed, a bag of ice my new best friend. It was a month before I could work out again and believe you me I wasn’t doing any more big kicks. “Hello elliptical machine, good bye Bruce Lee.”
All of this makes me insanely jealous of my children. They can be jumping on the trampoline, bounce off into a nearby tree, land on the grille, and after 15 minutes of a tears and a band-aid they’re back on the trampoline again. I once tried to jump on the trampoline with the kids and after 30 seconds I needed an oxygen tank.
Oh sure, you can prolong your youth for a while. If you eat a diet consisting of mostly kale, can afford a personal trainer, sleep on bed made of organic goose feathers, (as opposed to manufactured goose feathers?), take specialized medicine, and never eat ice cream, the rich and/or super dedicated among us can delay getting older for a few years, but you can’t prevent the inevitable. Like gravity, what goes up, (youth), must come down. No matter what you can’t make your 40 year old body do what your 22 year old did. There’s a reason Olympic gymnasts retire at 18, football players don’t last past 35, and yoga suddenly gets very popular for guys in their 40s. Every “body” ages and wears out eventually.
My parents are in their late 60’s and I honestly don’t know how they get out of bed in the morning. If it’s this hard for me at 39 then I’m scared to death of what’s coming in 30 years. That being said I’m sure my parents are laughing their head off if they are reading this right now.
The Bible says that Jesus was made like us in every way so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest for us, (Hebrews 2:17). But if Jesus only lived to be around 33, he skipped all the aches and pains of old age, so how could he possibly understand the frustration of straining your neck while drying your hair? Then again, the crucifixion would seem to trump a neck strain…
God also says “though our outer self is wasting away our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory being all comparison as we look not to the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen,” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). The passage is speaking in terms of persecution of the believer, but it applies to the inconvenience of aging as well. The Christian is to look not at his creaky back, his difficulty in getting out of bed, or the random pains and strains that come from such strenuous tasks as brushing your teeth. There is an eternal life out there and we are blessed to be a part of it. One day we’ll “shuffle off this mortal coil,” (Bill Shakespeare), and delight in the eternal glory of being with God forever. We can’t keep our body from deteriorating, but we can grow our soul more into the likeness of Jesus day by day.
So grab a heating pad, some Icy-Hot, and a Bible. Our joints may be feeble, but our spirits can be strong. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I hurt my wrist while typing this blog. I may need some ice.