My daughter turned 28 and went skydiving. When she touched down on terra firma, the owner of the skydiving business, a man looking to be in his 70s, quipped, "I'll bet that's the most fun you've ever had with your clothes on." (It was not original; I recognize the line from a Woody Allen movie.)
If the man thought he would elicit a grin from my daughter, he miscalculated. Though she has declared herself an unbeliever (for now), she evidently still knows what is unnatural to the created order and instinctively recoils from it. A hoary head should enclose a mind with wisdom, not lasciviousness. ("Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life"---Proverbs 16:31). God has ordained each age of man to have its peculiar beauty, just as celestial bodies differ in glory from terrestrial bodies (1 Corinthians 15:40). The youthful charms are fleeting (Proverbs 31:30), but the ripened counsel of maturity is a pearl of great price (Titus 2:2-8).
My daughter's reaction was like Jesus' own disappointment in approaching a fig tree from which he, by the looks of the leaves, expected figs. The anecdote in Mark 11 is a split one, the fig tree narrative interrupted by the recounting of Jesus' visit to the temple, in which the expectation of finding his Father's house to be a "house of prayer" is dashed by the spectacle of hustlers. Jesus overturns their tables---and later curses the fig tree. Jesus is not polite sometimes.
White hair on a fool is false advertisement, like "waterless clouds" (Jude 1:12). My heart was instructed by my daughter's experience. Let me flee the temptation to debase myself before youth, thinking to ingratiate myself with them. Children want to find godliness in the aged, whether they admit it or not. Even if a person does laugh at an unseemly joke in the moment, he thinks less of you afterward.
Lord, since I have to get old anyway, please begin preparing me now, so that I will not be like "fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted" (Jude 1:12).
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