Read Ecclesiastes 12:1-7
1 Remember your creator in the days of your youth,before the days of trouble come,and the years draw near when you will say,”I have no pleasure in them”; 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return with the rain; 3 in the day when the guards of the house tremble,and the strong men are bent,and the women who grind cease working because they are few,and those who look through the windows see dimly; 4 when the doors on the street are shut,and the sound of the grinding is low,and one rises up at the sound of a bird,and all the daughters of song are brought low; 5 when one is afraid of heights,and terrors are in the road; the almond tree blossoms,the grasshopper drags itself along and desire fails; because all must go to their eternal home,and the mourners will go about the streets; 6 before the silver cord is snapped,and the golden bowl is broken,and the pitcher is broken at the fountain,and the wheel broken at the cistern,7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was,and the breath returns to God who gave it. (NRSV)
Once upon a time in the days of youth,we relied on God to teach us to swim in the waters of faith and life. We invited him to harness our energy and open our eyes to the all the possibilities of life before us.
Then we grew older. And some grew very old. So it was that they no longer relied on God to teach them to splash and swim,no longer made plans for the future. Instead they had to learn to float on the waters of his patient love. A different sort of faith for a different season of life.
The writer of this text describes in poetic terms the decline of our faculties. It is irresistible and inevitable. Which is why he urges us to make the most of each and every moment when we have our strength,our wit and wisdom,our energy,our capacity to bear each other’s burdens. Because there will likely come a time when this is no longer possible.
This may lead us to despair if we forget that the God who taught us to ‘swim’ when we were younger,can teach us to ‘float’ when we are older. He does not abandon us in that season of life when we lose much of what we once had. We never lose him.