May 22, 2011
The Love of a Soul Near Its Home
“The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31).
In the later years of life, our hearts can come to love many things about God that our minds learned about God in our youth. In our journey toward God, experience may enable us to appreciate Job's statement: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5). It is only the passing of years, for most of us, that can turn our knowledge of the facts into gentle understanding and affectionate wisdom. In old age, we are better able to see just how true the truth really is.
To begin with, there is a difference between knowing God in theory and knowing God in experience. If the choice is between truth and falsehood, it’s obviously a good thing to be taught the truth about God when we are young. But it’s only when we’ve had a few years to work with the truth during life’s up‑and‑down experiences that we really appreciate the value of what we’ve known about God. It’s in the actual living of life that we come to cherish the truthfulness of God’s truth. David said, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). The longer we have lived with God, the sweeter the taste of God’s goodness becomes.
But there is something else about age. As F. W. Robertson said, “Manhood in the Christian life is a better thing than boyhood, because it is a riper thing; and old age ought to be a brighter and a calmer, and a more serene thing than manhood.” One reason for this serenity is that, normally, the older Christian is closer to reaching heaven than the younger is. And the closer we get to our true home, the more we cherish the love of our Father who awaits us there. It was not Paul the young man, but Paul “the aged” (Philemon 9), who wrote these words of hopeful love: “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). As the years go by, the “sweetly solemn thought” alluded to in Phoebe Cary's great hymn will fill our hearts more fully: “One sweetly solemn thought comes to me o’er and o’er: today I’m nearer to my home than e’er I’ve been before.”
“Old age can love God better than a doctor of theology can” (Bonaventure).