I take comfort in a story about the veteran preacher, Washington Gladden. One Sunday a visitor attended service at the church Gladden formerly served. Quite unexpectedly, he found Dr. Gladden serving as Guest preacher in the absence of the current minister. War One was escalating quickly and people everywhere were vocalizing heated hyperbole and making patriotism synonymous with faith. Gladden, stood that day and raised a conciliatory flag of caution, personally and powerfully reaffirming the power of faith and love.
As the visitor left the service on that cold January Sunday just prior to the war, he overheard two elderly ladies conversing. “We did a very wise thing when we kept Doctor Gladden among us as pastor emeritus,” one said to the other. “If he did nothing but just lived his life here where we can catch his spirit, the influence of his presence alone makes it worthwhile.”
Aging seems inevitable, but I want to continue upgrading my life expectancy while I continue working my way through my lifetime. To me, that suggests I focus more on being, less on doing, and that I draw courage from the examples I find along the way.
Vanderbilt allegedly added 100 million dollars to the fortune he already had, between the years of 70-80. Kant reached 74 before writing his Anthropology, Strife of the Faculties, and Metaphysics of Ethics, while 74-year-old Tintoretto completed his 74 x 30 canvass painting of Paradise. Verdi completed his masterpiece, Othello, at 74, wrote Falstaff at 80, finishing Ave Maria, Stabet Mater, and Te Deum at 85.
Cato began studying Greek at age 80, while Tennyson wrote “Crossing the Bar” at 83. Titian completed his historic painting of the battle of Lepanto at 98.
Life today does not begin at 70, nor does it necessarily end at 70. In fact, the Psalmist seems to me right on target, when concluding, “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him” (Psalm 92:14-15, NIV).
Thus, I will pray, “O Lord, keep me fully alive as long as I live.” And Lord, may it be said of me, as it was said of Washington Gladden, “If he did nothing but just lived his life here where we can catch his spirit, the influence of his presence alone makes it worthwhile.”
From Warner’s World,
its never too soon or too late to leave a good example,