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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Growing Old Isn’t So Bad After All

“ . . . Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13, 14).

Recently, I read a statement that flipped many, many mental calendars back to my growing-up years. Here it is: “When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of Algebra.”

Frankly, I don’t get dissatisfied very often, just occasionally. Dissatisfaction strikes when I have to wait thirty minutes in a cubicle at the doctor’s office with nothing to read except a hazardous waste warning on a trashcan. It strikes on a golf course, too, when I miss a two-foot putt. How can I miss such a short putt ninety-five percent of the time? But if I had to sit in Algebra class again or live through some other experiences from my youth, sitting in a cubicle or missing short putts wouldn’t seem so bad.

I remember what it was like to grow up in the 1940s and early 1950s. Nobody drove me to school; I walked. School buses didn’t exist. Neither did snow days. And when I was at school, I had to respect my teachers—maybe even fear them. Teachers weren’t fun, and they didn’t feel obligated to make learning fun. Nor were they particularly concerned about my self-esteem What mattered to them was that I learned what I was supposed to learn and behaved as I was supposed to behave. If a student in those days failed to learn, he was held back without regard for how we felt about it. If he failed to behave, he was paddled—at school and at home.

Television was practically unheard of in the ‘40s, and video games hadn’t even made it to the world of Buck Rodgers. There wasn’t even a McDonalds or a mall to hang out at. So I either played in the neighborhood or watched Mom cook.

When I was old enough to work part time, I received about twenty cents an hour. A heavy snowfall sent my older brother and me into the frigid air with shovels in hand. We knocked on neighbors’ doors and volunteered to clear their sidewalks for a quarter.

Oh, living those days wasn’t totally bad. My friends and I learned to respect our elders and to value life. We developed character, and learned the value of a nickel. Nobody pushed drugs at us or tried to get us to go along on a drive-by shooting. And if we went to Sunday school, we all memorized Scripture from the same Bible version.

Yes, I would rather live today than return to my youth. The opportunities to serve the Lord and to pass on a godly heritage to the grandkids sure beat sitting in school and trying to figure out what x stands for in 3x+5 equals 32.

© 2008, Jim Dyet

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