Sermon illustrations


The Best Thing about Being 104

A reporter interviewing a 104-year-old woman asked, “What is the best thing about being 104?” She simply replied, “No peer pressure.”

Billy Graham, Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2011, p.115).

God Has A Reason for Keeping us Here

No, old age is not for sissies. But that isn’t the whole story, nor did God intend for it to be. While the Bible doesn’t gloss over the problems we face as we grow older, neither does it paint old age as a time to be despised or a burden to be endured with gritted teeth (if we still have any).

Nor does it picture us in our latter years as useless and ineffective, condemned to spend our last days in endless boredom or meaningless activity until God finally takes us home. Instead the Bible says that God has a reason for keeping us here; if He didn’t, He would take us to Heaven far sooner.

Billy Graham, Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2011, pp.74-80).

The Growing Awareness of our Bodies

We come into this world blissfully unaware of these fragile, beautiful things we call our bodies. In our mother’s womb, we bathe in continuous warmth and nourishment, changing shadows and muffled voices, not knowing where our mothers end and where we begin. We are one. We are whole. Out in the bright, chilly world, most of us pass through childhood in a similar ignorance of unmediated bodily immediacy.

We reach out to touch, smell, and taste all the blankets, fingers, dirt clods, oranges, chair legs, and windblown leaves we encounter. Our bodies move and grow, and sometimes get hurt and heal, without our thinking much about it. Many of us also enter adulthood thinking very little about our bodies. They are just . . . there.

They may alert us of their presence if we stub our toe on the bed frame in a nighttime bathroom expedition or when the powdery yellow coat of spring pollen irritates our sinuses. Mainly, though, bodies are the taken-for-granted backdrop to all we do in life. Our feet walk us through the grocery store, our fingers and eyes facilitate our internet browsing, our noses and skin take in the presence of our loved ones. But we don’t notice our bodies in these moments. They just do what they’re supposed to do. And we go on living.

Then there comes a time when our bodies stop doing what they’re supposed to. They leap from their benign presence in the background and scream for attention. We can’t help but notice. We ache. We double over. We can’t walk, can’t think, can’t breathe. Something isn’t right. Our bodies fall apart.

For many, this awareness comes with aging. My mother often groans, “I feel like I am getting old.” Bodily deterioration—rickety joints, sagging skin, the slowing march of internal organs—is a normal, decades-long part of the business of living that leads to dying that leads to death—the complete halt of bodily function. For a growing number of us, though, our bodies malfunction long before normal aging sets in. Something goes wrong and refuses to be fixed by one or two visits to the doctor and time. Some of us have joints that start to swell and ache as teenagers. Others have jackhammer headaches that debilitate us for days. Yet others live with fatigue that makes the word tired seem like child’s play.

Taken from Hurting Yet Whole: Reconciling Body and Spirit in Chronic Pain and Illness by Liuan Huska. Copyright (c) 2020 by Liuan Huska. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com


Guessing Your Age

My wife found an app that guesses a person’s age by evaluating a picture of the person’s face. It missed Denalyn’s age by fifteen years to the young side. She liked that. It missed mine by five years to the old side. So I retook it. It added seven more. Then ten. I quit before it pronounced me dead.

Max Lucado, Less Fret, More Faith: An 11-Week Action Plan to Overcome Anxiety, Thomas Nelson Publishing.

The Healthiest & Happiest People

In recent research by the National Geographic Society and the National Institute on Aging, scientists interviewed some of the oldest and healthiest people on earth and observed where they live. Many of these people live healthy and active lives beyond the age of ninety, and an outrageous percentage of them are still going strong at one hundred.

Here is one of the discoveries they made: none of the people in these cultures did daily exercise. No weight lifting. No jogging. Nada. Don’t close the book! You see, they lived lifestyles where movement was a part of their everyday life. They didn’t have to jog or put on spandex to lift weights. They were in motion from morning till night.

Ken Davis, Fully Alive: A Journey that Will Change Your Life, Thomas Nelson 2012, pp. 34-35.

Questions and Answers for the Second-Half of Life

In his book, Falling Upward, Franciscan priest Richard Rohr describes the need for helpful discussion and direction on the themes that arise in the second-half of life, which, as he notes, presents a whole host of issues quite distinct from those of the first half:

I am driven to write because after forty years as a Franciscan teacher, working in many settings, religions, countries, and institutions, I find that many, if not most, people and institutions remain stymied in the preoccupations of the first half of life. By that I mean that most people’s concerns remain those of establishing their personal (or superior) identity, creating various boundary markers for themselves, seeking security, and perhaps linking to what seem like significant people or projects. These tasks are good to some degree and even necessary.

We are all trying to find what the Greek philosopher Archimedes called a “lever and a place to stand” so that we can move the world just a little bit. The world would be much worse off if we did not do this first and important task.

But, in my opinion, this first-half-of-life task is no more than finding the starting gate. It is merely the warm-up act, not the full journey. It is the raft but not the shore. If you realize that there is a further journey, you might do the warm-up act quite differently, which would better prepare you for what follows. People at any age must know about the whole arc of their life and where it is tending and leading.

Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, Jossey-Bass, 2011.

New Bodies in the New Creation

I love that part in The Silver Chair when old age simply vanishes from frail King Caspian, because age is the unavoidable meltdown, stripping even the bravest and most beautiful of their former glory. Whatever physical affliction you have known, whatever your limitations have been, everything old age will eventually strip you of—it will all be washed away.

Your renewed body will be like the body of Jesus.

We will burst forth into the new creation like children let out for summer break, running, somersaulting, cartwheeling into the meadows of the new earth. Running like the children, “without getting tired . . . faster and faster till it was more like flying than running, and even the Eagle overhead was going no faster than they.”

John Eldredge, All Things New: Heaven, Earth, and the Restoration of Everything You Love, Thomas Nelson, 2018.

The Secret to a Long Healthy Life

The saying used to be that the secret to a long, healthy life was to choose your parents well. But today we know that only about 20 percent of a person’s health is due to genetics, and about 20 percent is due to the medical care we receive. The other 60 percent is due to social, behavioral, and environmental factors, many of which we can and do influence by the choices we make throughout our lives—what we eat, how much and what kinds of exercise we do, where we live, the quality of our relationships, whether we smoke, and our ability to handle stress.

Jo Ann Jenkins, Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age (New York: PublicAffairs, 2016), 75.

Self-Awareness by the Decade

When you are in your twenties, you live to please other people.  When you are in your thirties, you are tired of trying to please others, so you get miffed with them for making you worry about it.  When you’re in your forties, you realize nobody was thinking about you in the first place.

Joshua Brooks, Playing for an Audience of One: Learning to Live for the Approval of Jesus (Enumclaw, WA: Pleasant Word, 2008, p.27).

When We Were Young

An elderly couple lies in bed.  She is not satisfied with the distance between them.  She reminds him, “When we were young, you used to hold my hand in bed.” He hesitates, but in a few moments a wrinkled hand snakes across the bed and grasps hers.  She is not satisfied “When we were young, you used to cuddle right up next to me.” More serious hesitation now.  But eventually, with a few groans, he laboriously turns his body and cradles hers as best he can.

She is not satisfied.

“When we were young, you used to nibble on my ear.”

Loud sigh.  He throws back the covers and bolts out of bed.  She is somewhat hurt by this.

“Where are you going?”

“To get my teeth.”

Taken from John Ortberg, Love Beyond Reason (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998).

Why Some People Live Longer

Most people who live to old age do so not because they have beaten cancer, heart disease, depression or diabetes. Instead, the long-lived avoid serious ailments altogether through a series of steps that often rely on long-lasting, meaningful connections with others, says University of California, Riverside, psychologist Howard S. Friedman, PhD, co-author with Leslie Martin, PhD, of the 2011 book “The Longevity Project.”

Amy Novotney, American Psychological Association

See also illustrations on Legacy, Maturity, Wisdom

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our quotes page on Aging. Don’t forget, sometimes a great quote is an illustration in itself!

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