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What keeps a person over 70 going?

Colulmnist

If you’re reading this article, that means you made it through 2013.

As we ring in a new year, how is 2014 looking for those who are still in the race?

In church on Sunday, our pastor called us the Bell Lap Church, because most of us are over 60 years old. It’s a term used in running. The bell lap runner is the last one to get the baton and he carries it over the finish line.

Some of us are on the last lap of the race and very close to the goal.

The pastor said he was going to quit calling us the Bell Lap Church, and then he realized it was always the 70 year olds who showed up on moving day to move another family in the church. So, he asked the people over 70 what kept them going.

Everyone had his or her answer.

For me, it was a gnawing in my being that I couldn’t answer.

Maybe it’s a sense of so little time to accomplish what the Lord has required of me. When I stand before Him, I would hope He’d say, “Well done, my faithful servant. You did everything I put in your hands to do and you trusted in Me to get it done.”

I’ve chewed on that question: “What keeps a person like me over seventy going?”

Is it because I haven’t seen the fruition of my own work yet? But then I realized those things I’ve done in faith for eternity will not be seen in their fullness until I step over to the other side. It’s just a matter of being able to keep doing what I’ve been doing and growing in grace.

I was reminded of “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” He felt his life didn’t count for anything because he didn’t get to do what he really wanted to do. But, in the end, his life had a great effect on many lives. He was a blessed man because he stayed on the path he was asked to walk.

Some of us haven’t bloomed and we are in our seventies. It wasn’t because we were slouches all those years. We were knocking and pushing on doors. Some were opened to us, many were not only shut, but locked … but we kept on knocking.

I was telling a writer friend that my first book has been made into a movie script and I was going to do scripts for my next two books for a television series.

I said, “I don’t know why I keep pushing. It probably won’t amount to a hill of beans.”

She said, “We’re doing it for the next generation.”

That was my answer.

That’s why I do what I do.

Hopefully we are all doing something for the next generation, for those who are wandering aimlessly, who do not have the same work ethic that was pounded into us. Young people are looking at a world so twisted and perverted in morals and principles that nothing makes sense to them. There are many who have not had a good family life, with traditions and standards. It wasn’t their fault. It’s been handed to them and they are dealing with it the best way they can.

When my friend said, “We do what we do for the next generation,” I thought of this poem, “Building The Bridge,” from “Rare Old Chums” by Will A. Dromgoole. I think it says it all.

“A pilgrim, going a lone highway

Came at evening, cold and gray

To a chasm, deep and vast and wide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim.

The chasm held no fears for him

But he paused when he reached the other side

And built a bridge to span the tide.

‘Old man,’ said a fellow pilgrim near,

‘Why waste your time in building here?

Your journey ends with the close of day

You never again will pass this way.

You’ve crossed the chasm deep and wide

Why build ye here at eventide?’

The pilgrim raised his old gray head,

‘My friend, in the path I’ve come,’ he said,

‘There follows after me today

A fair-haired youth who must pass this way.

The chasm which held no fears for me

To the fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.

He, too, must cross in the twilight dim.

My friend, I am building this bridge for him.’”

Final brushstroke: So, to my Bell Lap friends who have made it another year and hopefully will see many more years, we are building a bridge for a fair-haired youth who must pass this way. Yes, we’re building a bridge for him.

Artist’s quote

“We will receive not what we idly wish for but what we justly earn. Our rewards will always be in exact proportion to our service.” — Earl Nightingale.

Readers’ comments

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This story was posted on January 2, 2014.