The rear view mirror in an automobile is relatively small and the distance and objects for the backward look are not in the right orientation. By contrast, the windshield for the view ahead is large and panoramic. Both are necessary for driving perspective and for our life perspective.
Looking backward, the choices I recounted that I made in the past, even as far back as childhood, largely determine the consequences and rewards and blessings I'm experiencing now. From my current summit position, it is time to look forward. There is still a “rest of the way” whether it is one day or a decade.
As King David meditated in the Psalms at the summit of his life when he was advanced in years and declining in health, he stated the obvious: “I have been young, now I am old....” He had experienced the vigor of youth, the warrior strength of maturity, and now he was suffering the weakness and decline of age. That is the destiny of each person if he or she lives long enough.
Realistically we will all struggle with the natural limitations of aging. There will be the inevitable diminishing of physical and mental energy, the decline of mortal faculties, and the termination of life on earth. I will encounter a plethora of new choices that I've never had to make before. Some choices may eventually be made for me as I lose my independence. Nevertheless, at this very moment I still may have time to prepare for abundant living on the summit. Or even learn how to climb to greater heights on my summit. With aged Caleb in the Old Testament story, I ask, as he did, for God to give me the challenge of another mountain to climb. I anticipate singing on the summit until, God willing, “the hills are alive with music”!
The summit of a mountain isn’t usually a plateau. I don’t believe the summit of my life is a place to settle or let down my guard. As I look around my mountaintop, I see more peaks to climb in the mountain range. My life is not yet spent. I’m still spending it, even if I have only one day left.
If I don’t keep growing, climbing, moving, I will slide backward. Doctors say that this applies to both the aging body and mind. As they say, you have to use it or you’ll lose it. If I don’t keep my mind alert, it will deteriorate in the same way as my body will for lack of movement. The latest medical research gives us some previously unknown and unexpected good news. Even in advanced years the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain can renew themselves and new stem cells can grow! That’s not news to God. He created us with that capacity and expects us to daily “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Therefore, I want to push the horizons of my mind and spirit further and remain on the cutting edge of life. The more I stretch, the higher I can reach. I don’t want to miss anything God planned for me.
Suddenly, so it seems, I am the eldest in our extended family; I am the “matriarch!” That role carries with it serious responsibility. I am supposed to be wise by this time, and matriarchs should pass on their godly wisdom. Some who reach mature calendar age unfortunately become foolish instead. I am happy in my continuity role as the trunk in our family tree, as the connection between the roots (our heritage) and the branches (our children and grandchildren). When I was a child, my paternal grandmother was the trunk and the matriarch. I was a little branch, just a twig. Now I feel honored to be the trunk, and I pray that I might be a strong one to support and encourage our multiple branches as long as God gives me that opportunity.