I was told the other day that old age begins at eighty! If that is so, how should you view the decade before eighty? When he reached his seventieth birthday the great missionary to the Muslim world, Samuel Zwemer gave a talk to the Warfield club at Princeton Seminary entitled LIFE BEGINS AT SEVENTY.
He began this address by citation of patriarchs and other great leaders of men and women from Abraham and Sarah down to modern times, who had accomplished their greatest work after three-score years and ten; then went on to give seven reasons why life should begin at seventy.
- We should have a diploma from the school of experience by that time.
- We are near to the river that has no bridge.
- We have passed our apprenticeship in the school of life.
- At seventy we can look further backward and further forward.
- By this time we should know that life consists not in the abundance of things we possess.
- We feel the responsibility to witness for God to the next generation.
- At seventy the Christian must redeem the time and live in more deadly earnest.
J. Christy Wilson in his biography of Zwemer includes this poem by Henry Wadworth Longfellow.
Ah, nothing is too late,
Till the tired heart shall cease to palpitate.
Cato learned Greek at eighty; Sophocles
Wrote his grand Oedipus, and Simonides
Bore off the prize of verse from his compeers,
When each had numbered more than fourscore years.
Chaucer at Woodstock with the nightingales,
At sixty wrote the Canterbury Tales;
Goethe at Weimer, toiling to the last
Completed Faust when eighty years were past.
(Morituri Salutamus, Stanzas 22-23)
If you were to examine your life for each decade and label it what would you call the present decade?