At the moment, Covenant Youth, you are strong.
And life is so sweet.
The years of preparation and of growing up are behind you. Physically you are now fully developed. You have arrived at full strength of body. And now the world, the whole world, with all that which it contains is ahead of you. What if offers and what opportunities are in it far exceeds anything that any former generation knew. The little things are behind you. Big things are ahead. Childish things are no more the lot of your life. You have arrived!
In the enjoyment of your new freedom and powers you are often too busy to stop and consider that, even as you gradually came from these little things and weaknesses of childhood to your present strength and freedom, so all this will wear off, and, as Solomon said in his wisdom, “Man goeth to his long home.” The strength you now have seems to be so durable. Within you, you have no conscious experience to tell you that all this could end, and that there will also be a slide downhill as there was this steady climb uphill.
But you are covenant youth. And there is a measure of spiritual growth within you as well as physical and mental development. Therefore these lines are written by one interested in your spiritual well-being with the assurance that you can and will receive it. May these lines serve to assist you in your spiritual growth so that in it you are not behind the physical and mental growth.
Consider, then, that although life is sweet today and your strength is great, the days will come wherein you will say, “I have no pleasure in them.” That is right. Days lie ahead which will produce no pleasure for you. Days there will be when aches and pains instead of pleasure will be your experience. You may even speak then of “the good old days.”
Listen once to what Solomon wrote, and what God moved Him to pen down for you, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” Ecclesiastes 12:1 And he knew what he was talking about. He was telling it as it is. In fact, in very beautiful language he points out to you what is going to happen in your life. He tells you to remember your Creator “While the sun, [or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain.” By this he points out to you that sicknesses, sorrows and miseries are before you in spite of the strength you now feel and the health that you now enjoy. Dark days are coming. Days when the shadow of death will be very evident to you. The light will become dim, because the sun, the moon, the stars are darkened for you. The sun may shine brightly in the sky for your children, who now have arrived at your present age; but for you it is grief upon grief, disappointment after disappointment, one sickness and ailment upon another, and, perhaps, recovery from one type of surgery only to have to submit to the knife for another. That is what Solomon means when he says that the clouds return after the rain. You expect a few years of sunshine now because you are beginning to recover from an ailment. But, no, the clouds return to pour out more rain and trouble.
He continues, “In the days when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened.” Plainly here we have a picture of old age creeping up—and at times rushing up—at us. With the weakness of old age the legs tremble and the knees smite one against the other, often so uncontrollably. The arms, which symbolize the strength of man bow themselves in weakness, not able to do the work they formerly enjoyed. There we sit with arms folded (bowed) instead of reaching out to the work and flexing with visible power of rippling muscles. The teeth, or grinders, are few and we resort to soft foods. That steak we pass up; and those nuts and crunchy fruits we reluctantly refuse. At the same time the eyes, those that look out, of the windows, need more and more light, if we are to read. We try to open them one lens stop or two, and find that they do not print Bibles and books as clearly as they did when we were your present age.
So it is also that your mouth also slows down, for “The doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low.” Well, your appetite just is not what it used to be; and what you eat does not agree with you, so you let it go, refuse it, leave it on the plate and you nibble here and there, because you have to cope with a slowed-down digestive system; and perhaps a set of ulcers as well. With the decaying of the teeth—and in Solomon’s days they did not have the advantages and marvels of modern dentistry—come doctor’s orders to cut down on those rich foods, on foods high in cholesterol, on fatty foods, and those pesky calories. Pretty soon you get almost on a milk and toast diet, which you eat because it is time to eat and not because you are actually hungry and look forward to eating.
Deafness sets in and sleep escapes you. You are up with the birds and not because the slightest noise .awakens you. No, although, “He shall rise up at the voice of the bird”, Solomon continues, “and the daughters of music shall be brought low”, you shall rise up at the time when the bird’s voice is heard by others, by your children. You yourself will only faintly hear—unless modern electronics has supplied you with an hearing aid which also magnifies the noises you do not want to hear—your daughter’s and granddaughter’s singing. You shout and wonder why people talk so softly. Is this also due to the “generation gap?” You turn the radio way up and cannot .understand that others quickly set it so that you cannot hear it. They must have it in for the old fogies and do not want them to enjoy these things along with them. That new preacher is really no improvement either. He speaks so softly! And that new amplification system was not really worth those hundreds of dollars spent. They just do not make things the way they used to do!
But the day will also come when your present bravery will disappear. You will be “afraid of that which is high, and fear shall be in the way.” You will probably turn in your driver’s license. These young fellows drive so fast! It makes you so nervous. How can you ever cross that busy highway; and why do they have to put up so many stop signs? You take the old roads and shun the super-super-highways and free-wheeling freeways. You are not so sure of yourself anymore, and it is a relief when someone else drives. And icy roads . . . ???
Your lawn does not get cut so often and the leaves are not raked up so quickly. The snow stays on your sidewalk in the hope that maybe the sun will take care of that. The flowers you planted and cared for so faithfully are choked by weeds. Your vegetable garden is the easy prey of insects and bugs. It is either too hot or too cold, or you are too tired to be at it and to keep the yard and garden as it once was. Besides your ambition, your force and drive has slowed up and weakened so much that all this does not bother you, even though at one time this all was your pride and joy. As Solomon says, “The almond tree shall flourish and the grasshopper shall be a burden and desire shall fail.”
You may, therefore, expect that dark and carefully groomed head of hair to become snow white like the blossoms of the almond tree before they fall to the ground; or even see that almond tree bare and without even as much as one white blossom on it. And around this time you may be heard saying, “O, my aching back!” You will look for a straight hard chair for fear that you will never be able of yourself to get out of that soft, reclining chair which you used to enjoy so much. Or perhaps you want to tell your grandchildren about your slipped disc operation upon your back.
And why is all this? Solomon points out correctly that man goeth to his long home. And all around you in house after house the mourners will gather, as those, who grew up with you will have already gone to their long, everlasting home. We climb to a point of physical strength and development; and then with each year in gaining momentum we rush down hill to the end! The Psalmist says in Psalm 90:10 that “We fly away.”
It may not seem that way to you now. This may look like it is for others. But be sure that this is fact for all of us. “It is appointed unto men once to die”. Hebrews 9:27. And this text adds, “But after this the judgment.” Of this Solomon also speaks in the connection of the verses which we treated above. Not only does he tell you, with a view to the fact that you will appear in judgment before Him at the end of that way, to remember your Creator in these days of your youth; but in the concluding verses of the preceding chapter he stated, “Rejoice, O young man (and of course also young woman) in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in all the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.”
Solomon said that. And he said it in God’s name. He, Solomon, had also been a youth. Having passed through childhood and youth and not yet having his silver cord loosed, or golden bowl broken, nor his pitcher broken at the fountain or wheel broken at the cistern, going toward the dust, but not yet having returned to it, Solomon from that vantage point and with an accumulated wisdom speaks from the pages of Holy Writ to you today. And being interested in your spiritual well-being, we wish to write a few lines more about this matter next time, the Lord willing.
Now, you are in the prime of your life and still advancing to more strength. Now your strength seems unlimited and your recuperative powers very great. Now, therefore, is also the time for you to remember your Creator. This is the time when you are so apt to push Him out of your mind and life. Yea, now is the time when it seems as though you have little or no need of Him. Fall not into that error! The old must die, Solomon has pointed out, but the young can die and often do. Besides, youth is the time that God demands service and love as well as in the declining years of life. Remember Him in His fear. And remember that He remembers perfectly all your deeds, long after you have dismissed them from mind and forgotten them completely. But, as we said, more of this, the Lord willing, next time.