“While the Evil Days Come Not”
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” I wonder if it has ever occurred to you that the things that are luring you, the things you are being borne away with, the things that are keeping you from serving and loving God now—the time will come when you will not enjoy those things like you do now. You will lose your ability to enjoy them. The evil days come and the years draw nigh when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them.” The writer goes on here and describes the person who loses his eyesight, “those that look out of the windows be darkened, and the doors shall be shut in the streets.” He is shut in now; he can’t go about and do like he used to do, can’t enjoy the things he used to enjoy, he is coming down to old age now. The grasshoppers are a burden to him. Things that we used to not pay any attention to are a burden to us now.
I told somebody a while back, “I must be getting old. I used to get in my car and drive from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City without stopping for rest—just drive right through; but now if I drive out to San Bernardino and back, which is about eighty miles away, it seems to me like a big trip.”
Grasshoppers will be a burden; the almond tree shall flourish; hair will turn gray; strong men will bow themselves. Youth takes pride in its youth, in its vigor, and its quick, steady step; it holds its shoulders erect, its head up and its chest out. But the time will come when the step is going to be slower than it is now, the head will bow a little and the shoulders sag a little. Your vitality is ebbing away and the natural forces are abating and you will begin to give to your feelings. You will wake up at the sound of the bird, all nervous and restless, and can’t sleep at night. If you stay at home and rest, any little old noise disturbs you and wakes you. One may say, “When I was a youth I could just sleep right on, nothing would wake me, but now I am nervous and jittery and any little thing wakes me.” The writer goes ahead to describe the circumstances of complete collapse: “the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.” Everything collapsing and going down.
What is the matter? This man is going to his long home. He is coming down to the place where his health is breaking, his strength is diminishing, his natural forces abating—he is coming down to cross over to his long home. There is a complete collapse of everything, everything falling apart. You say, “Oh, that is a dismal picture. I don’t want to think about it.” Well, all right, but let me tell you this: Everyone of you is going to get old if you live long enough, and the only way to avoid getting old and the handicaps of old age and the breaking down and collapse of everything is for a man to die when he is young, and nobody wants to do that. If you live long enough, you are going to come down to this time and you will lose your ability to enjoy the things that are holding you away from God today. “While the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them”—you have lost your ability to enjoy them. People get jittery and nervous and others say they are old and childish, meaning they are hard to please, and they complain and murmur—you can’t satisfy them. You don’t have to get old that way. You see, how we are when we get old depends on how we live when we are young.
I was called twice in one year to preach funerals for two ladies. One of them was just past ninety-four years, and the other one would soon have been ninety-four. They were way up there in years, but those were sweet old ladies—just precious people. One of them had the testimony that she had given her heart to the Lord when she was twelve years old and had lived for God right on up through the years—eighty-two years for God! Isn’t that a wonderful record? If you young folks and children have started living for God, just keep right on and maybe you will live eighty-two years for God. If you haven’t, get started now so you can live what time you have left for God, in His service, doing good and helping save somebody else. God wants to save you to serve Him, working for a good cause and maybe helping other people to find salvation. He needs you, He needs young folks. Young folks can fill places older folks can’t fill. They have the energy, strength, etc., to go out there and do, where older folks aren’t able to. I don’t class myself as old, but I can’t go like I used to go. I can’t do things like I used to do them, but there are folks right in here that could outstrip anything I ever did if they would just get in the harness and get going, get busy doing what God would have them to do.
But now here it is, people get old and childish. They come down to old age and they are shut in now, they can’t go out and bury their feelings and convictions like they used to do. It used to be if they got any convictions from God, they would just go out and get with the gang and have a big time and cover it all up, but they can’t do that now. They are shut in, just living with themselves and their memories and sometimes people find themselves pretty difficult to live with, especially if one has a misspent life back down there and remembers some thing he wishes he didn’t have to remember. You know, memories are pretty hard things to have to live with sometimes and they are pretty hard to dispose of and get rid of. Memories. Take a person who hasn’t lived like he should have lived, and he knows he hasn’t lived like he should have. His life has been misspent. There are things back there that transpired in his life that he wishes now hadn’t transpired, and he remembers things he wishes he didn’t have to remember. But he can’t get out now and drown out his feelings, can’t drown his memories. He can’t get out—he is shut in, and maybe he is blind and can’t enjoy looking at the things he used to enjoy looking at. The folks that helped to drown out his feeling when he was young are old now, too. Maybe they are shut in and can’t come over to visit him, can’t help him out any, and he is just shut in with himself and with his memories. From the place where he sits, all he has to look forward to is approaching death and impending judgment and the uncertainty of those things that lie beyond, and he is just pretty difficult to deal with—pretty unpleasant. We all get old if we live long enough, but how we get old depends on how we live now. One can bury things, bury feelings and cover up different things, but when you get a little older you will lose your ability to camouflage and what you are will start coming out on you. You will find yourself rather hard to live with when you are shut in and living with just yourself.
One sister preacher used to say that people would talk about being surprised at what they would see in older people, and what older people do, saying, “I never would have thought that of them.” She said, “Oh, that’s been there all the time, it is just coming out now. It is just now breaking out.” They lost their ability to camouflage. Before, they had covered up and hedged, and it is just coming out now. Nobody with you, just shut in with your memories and yourself.
I read a title on a book in a bookstore once which said, The Older You Get the More Like Yourself You Become. That’s so. You just get to be yourself after awhile, and yourself just comes out and exposes you.