The Bible guarantees us 4 score years and ten, or 70 years. But I notice that older people are in no rush to leave. Nor would I encourage it. But there are many reasons we need to leave, gracefully and on time.
First and foremost is that each new generation has different cultural concerns and they need their 40 years to manage the nations, businesses and families – just as we did. Each decade brings new problems, from the explosion of technology and learning to the shifting status of nation-states. Change is the rule of life and we must learn that lesson and then give it to the younger ones.
A Time to Rest
Second, each generation deserves a time of rest to enjoy the grandchildren, to travel or hobbies or just hang out on the front porch with old hunting buddies. Older people often mention this as something they look forward to.
God has Term Limits
Third, if people lived forever the older ones might not be willing to give up their seats of power and thus holding back the entire community. God has term limits – why not us? Can you imagine having Hitler, who died in 1945, still prowling around trying to cause trouble, if he managed to escape international law. We would be crying, “Hey, let’s move on here.”
Focus on Making Things Right
Fifth, many individuals put off God until the end of their lives. Some people put it off too long and leave before they have a chance to make things right. And not just right with God. There are dead people in my family who did not have a chance to accept forgiveness or to offer it. They left with a major work of life undone.
The Need for Peace
Finally there is the issue of Peace. We are all promised it and death brings peace. I’ve seen people stand at a gravestone and shout anger, or grief or a list of regrets but it floats off in the air like yesterday’s yellowed newspaper scraps. If you are wise, you turn around and leave the cemetery and say, “Peace go with you and I will continue on my road.”