The Golden Years – Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:8

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”

What are our “golden years?” The term came into use in the mid-1950s to describe those years after the age of 65. The idea of classifying these years as “golden,” came about from observing human beings as we move out of the gloom often associated with mid-life, when one’s mortality is realized, and move into our final years of happiness and rest in retirement from work. But are these years truly “golden?” Or is it more accurate and honest to define the “golden years,” as one website does: The term used by old folks who are too attached to their youth to admit that they are in fact … old.” Perhaps the more modern urban dictionary is correct in describing the “golden years,” as being those years after age 21. There is no question that the old Preacher Qoheleth would define one’s “golden years” as beginning in their youth.

The book of Ecclesiastes is one old man’s effort to teach young people about life, from a look back at the lessons he learned often from his own mistakes. As he draws his treatise to a close, old Qoheleth contrasts the light, vigor, pleasure and hope of youth with the darkness, weakness, pain, and sorrow of age. He uses this stark contrast in order to motivate his young audience to enjoy life by rejoicing in their Creator, before life’s misery gets a hold of them. He exhorts them to commence early in their worship of God, so that they might develop a habit of finding their joy in Him; because, once we enter into the winter of life, and the days of darkness are upon us, we cannot rejoice in retrospect. The time to rejoice is now or never!

But, as it has been said, “youth is wasted on the young.” The reality of the human experience is that we usually do not learn to rejoice until it is too late. We take life for granted; we fail to enjoy the present, especially in our younger days. We would just as soon skip over certain days, just to get past them; we look forward to the weekend or vacations or retirement. For many of us, our lives were far spent, before we learned what it means to rejoice in God. Others, who have had the benefit of understanding this truth at a younger age, choose instead to rejoice in sin and worldly pleasures, rather than in our Creator, God. It becomes difficult to reverse a life-long pattern of enjoying sin or living in anxiety or fear. The longer we put off acting on this admonition to enjoy our life in God, the harder it is to actually do it. And once the days of the darkness and declining health of old age are upon us, with the pattern of our lives already set, it is difficult to learn to rejoice in God, so we end up being deprived of the abundant life that Christ came to give us.

So what then? Are we to think that if we are in our 40s or 50s or 60s or 70s that it is too late for us to find our joy in Christ? Not at all! For while we still have some strength in our creaky bones, breathe in laboring lungs, and beats in our fading heart, there is yet a hope for repentance. Verse 6 exhorts all of us of all ages, to remember your Creator, before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.” Human life is like a vapor, it is fleeting, so don’t waste any time – rejoice in the Lord today, and every day. Remember your Creator and all that He has given you to rejoice in. The younger you are when you start, the longer will your years be truly “golden.”

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