In less time than it takes to parse “I ain’t no whippersnapper, Sonny,” I’ll be observing a birthday whose number is linked in *Scripture with being strong. When my father reached that milestone, his birthday card included my simple message: “You made it!” I went on to extol the continuing strengths I saw in him.
As I approach that same number of years, I know that I can’t credit my well-being to brawny musculature, sturdiness of frame or physical toughness. I’m not approaching this birthday with the kind of robust bodily capabilities that some might correlate to living well. I can’t lift, carry, move, drag or grasp things like I used to. Climbing ladders is out of the question, as are Mr. Universe contests and pole-vaulting. I take more breaks.
I’m grateful for good health, another way of thinking about strength. Because of my parents and spouse, I’ve maintained a healthy lifestyle for decades. I am relatively free of diseases or conditions that can handicap older adults. I am limber and agile. My brain and body systems work just fine.
Remembering that long-ago birthday card, I recall other ways in which my father was strong: He was loving, perceptive, honest and selfless. An insistent spiritual core fueled his quiet leadership. Others admired him for his kindness, thrift, humility and generosity. His stamina was unflagging; he worked hard at whatever he chose to do.
As I come up on four-score years, I hope that I’ve inherited some of my father’s Spirit-graced strengths. As my natal feast day draws near, I hope to sum all these decades of my life by practicing what the Psalmist encouraged: “Teach us to use wisely all the time we have.” (Psalm 90:12 CEV) And yes, I look forward to this no-longer-whippersnapper birthday.
With all my strength….!
*You can find the context for this assertion in Psalm 90:10. Some translations substitute health or luck for the attribute of strength.
(To receive these entries when they are posted, go to the upper right hand corner of the top banner and click on the three dots or parallel lines. Scroll down to the subscription form and enter your information.)