by Cliff Graham
If you’re ever in the mood for an exercise in futility, try looking for someone who is excited about growing old.
We worship youth, and we fear age. We’ll dump an enormous amount of money into paying for products that poison our skin just to avoid a wrinkle, or try to wear clothes that better suit our teenagers.
What a shame.
It’s not appropriate to brush aside the challenges of aging. No one wants their eyes to dim or their knees and hips to lock up. But there’s a way to do it that gives tremendous satisfaction for a race well run.
I got started in fiction with the “Lion of War” series, about the battles of King David and his elite warriors known as the Mighty Men. It was born out of my time as a soldier and then pastor, trying to find ways to tell Bible stories in a manner that men could relate to.
It opened up a career for me, and I began to travel and speak to many groups about the elements of the story of David I believed were important for us to grasp. As I met men of all ages and cultures, I noticed that the older guys seemed to feel left out of church activity. They’re good for tithing and volunteering for the early morning stuff, but ultimately people believe their sun is setting and it is time for them to step out onto the iceberg and float to the horizon.
In my new novel series, “Shadow of the Mountain,” I wanted to retain the emphasis on men at war, but also portray the challenges and opportunities of growing older. To go back to a time when gray hair was a badge of honor, and the young revered the elderly for their wisdom and experience.
Caleb’s grand speech in Joshua chapter 14 is a highlight of the Bible’s narrative for me. After many years of labor and toil and warfare, the Israelites are finally ready to settle in their Promised Land. But Caleb doesn’t want to retire. He asks for battle as his inheritance. “I am eighty-five years old,” he says, “And I am still as strong as I have ever been. Now give me this mountain country of which the Lord spoke of on that day, for you have heard about how there are giants there with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.”
So, for Caleb, there will be no retirement. May it be the same for us.
As an author, I want my work and legacy to matter as I age, regardless of the sales (which isn’t exactly easy to follow through on at times). I believe my career comes down to two things: helping men discover that the Bible is more than just a kid’s book about Jesus petting lambs, and showing how to live out the ideals in modern life that the ancient characters fought for.
I became involved over the past year with several organizations, including Operation Underground Railroad and Breaking Chains Ministries. These groups, and others like them, fight the evil of child sex trafficking by conducting undercover, government partnership-based rescue missions. It’s more than just “awareness raising,” it’s about taking action to live out the principles in James chapter 1 about defending the weak and oppressed. It’s what men ought to be about.
I have been blessed to be a part of the rescue of over 150 children through these organizations through undercover work and sting operations. A drop in the ocean of the problem, but action nonetheless.
The duty is to fight, and not to give up because the problem is overwhelming. I donate a large percentage of everything I sell to help fund these missions and organizations. It’s good battle, and not one we should retire from. We should be in the business of taking mountains as we age, not making bucket lists.
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