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Over the Hill and Up to the Stars, by Phil Ware Phil Ware

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    Well, maybe you’ve had your fill of it by now, I don’t know. Maybe it’s been lost in all the election hoopla of the last few days. But wasn’t it exciting to have so much interest paid to the latest shuttle mission because one generation’s hero going back to space enabled him to be the hero of a whole new generation.

    No, I’m not absolutely sure that John Glenn’s work on the latest shuttle mission is all that scientifically significant. But I do believe that it’s worth every penny we spent to get him there. With a more vibrant and vital older population in our world today, it’s refreshing to see attention being paid to someone older who has paid his dues, shown his courage, and proved his value. John Glenn is no flash in the pan. In a sound bite world, he is a “War and Peace” hero.

    I’m sure when baby boomers overrun the post sixty age bracket, older will be “in” again and “hip” will not only be a description of their torso but also of their popularity. But I’m hoping against hope that respect and appreciation for the older segment of our society can ride the John Glenn shuttle into cultural reentry before the baby boomer brigade makes it popular simply by sheer demographics.

“We do not lose heart.”
    So many of our freedoms were bought and secured by those who are now in their sixties, seventies, eighties, and nineties as they lived through the turbulent times of The Great Depression and World War II. So many more of that generation have show real faithfulness in making marriages last, riding through the ups and downs of economic cycles, and living through the uncertainty of the early nuclear age. Their accomplishments scientifically, financially, and culturally have left lasting impressions for good on our world. We must not let revisionist historians denude them of their accomplishments or rob them of their hard won character.

    As Christians, we must not only honor our older brothers and sisters in Christ because it is God’s will, we must also call them to genuine service in the Kingdom. Retirement may work with a job, but it must never be a word used in relationship to faith, Christian service, mission, and hope. The churches of today must openly use and value the service and insight of older Christians. At the same time, older Christians must refuse to “coast their way to heaven.” Paul’s confidence must be burned into our spiritual psyche: “We do not lose heart. While the outer nature is wasting away, the inner nature is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16) This must be much more than a line. It must be our passion.

    Older Christians often have more money, time, experience, and knowledge to share with a world increasingly confused and broken. As I’ve watched my own parents, I’ve seen them go all over the world on mission trips, help with Meals on Wheels, counsel children who’ve lost family members to death, visit hospitals and nursing homes, and volunteer in a food distribution center for those with financial needs. Most of these activities are done weekly while they are involved in civic club and church activities, as well as being wonderful grandparents to more grandchildren than we can count. To them I say, “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better!” They are my living reminder of what John Glenn has re-taught us all this past week: the goal of being over the hill is not to coast to the finish line, but to soar up to the stars!


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