Posted by: davidlarkin | February 11, 2018

On Growing Old

When Growing Old. A print of this painting by Rembrandt, Philosopher in Meditation (1632), hangs on the wall of our family room.

The old philosopher may be meditating on getting old, as expressed in this prayer below by William Barclay (1907-1972 from his collection, “Prayers for Help and Healing.” Barclay was a Scottish author, radio and television presenter, Church of Scotland minister and Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Glasgow and prolific author.  He wrote a 19 volume commentary series on the books of the New Testament.  They are very good, with one limitation — Barclay did not believe the miracles in the gospels and acts of the Apostles.  He made natural explanations.  For example, when Jesus fed the 5000, Barclay does not accept the plain language that Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes miraculously.  Instead, he writes that all the people had private stashes of loaves and fishes, and felt guilty when Jesus’s began to feed the 5000 with a few loaves and fishes, and brought out their stashes and fed the people around them.  That is harder to believe than that Jesus miraculously multiplied the loaves and fishes.  Chuck Smith, pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and founding pastor of the Calvary Chapel movement of more that 1,500 churches world-wide, believed the miracles of Jesus.  However, he said he liked to use Barclay’s commentaries, remarking charitably, that “Barclay had a problem with miracles,” but that his commentaries on the historical background and theological insights were good and helpful in Bible study and sermon preparation.

Here is Barclay’s prayer, “When Growing Old.”

When Growing Old

O God,
I know now what it is like to be growing old.
Everything is a bigger effort than it used to be.
I get more easily tired,
and each job takes longer to do.

My memory is not so good;
My mind is not so quick;
My body is not so strong.
And yet I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

I have learned
what is important
and what is not important.

I know now
that there are a great many things
not worth worrying about

I have learned
to take the rough with the smooth
and not to get upset.

I have learned
who my real friends are, and how much I owe
to those who love me, and to those whom I love.
Above all, when I look back

I can see your hand in everything,
and when I remember all that you have done for me in the past its easy to trust you for the days to come.

Isaiah heard God saying:

“Even to your old age I am He,
and to gray hairs I will carry you,
I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save.”

—– Isaiah 46:4

Under the shadow of they throne, thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is thine arm alone, and our defense is sure.

Prayers for Help and Healing at p. 51.

When I turned 60 on July 14, 2008, that morning I wrote a short blog post “On Turning 60,” my first PAT (paroxysmal atrial tachycardia), running in Pebble Beach, running the first Los Angeles Marathon, and God’s blessed removal of the fear of death.

You can click here to read “On Turning 60.” 

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