Read TruthInConviction at

Saturday, June 27, 2009


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

Until Norman Vincent Peale hung up his hat for good, he was always trying to change his world for God. Why? Because when he was young he thought himself to be a loser. Then God showed him how to be a winner with life. Once he got hold of those principles, he could not help but try to get out the message--even after so-called retirement age.

“I’m so constructed that age makes no difference. If I get aches and pains at my age, I talk to them. I say, ‘Get with it!’ If you think about age, it’ll get you.” He made this pronouncement when 89.

“I tell everybody to do what I did: Find another career when you’re 65. If you retire and go to Florida and play golf all morning and all afternoon, you’re going to deteriorate.”

Artist Pablo Picasso was still drawing at 90.

Actress Jessica Tandy won an Academy Award at 80 for her performance in “Driving Miss Daisy.”

Environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas was still at it when l00. She is applauded for saving the Everglades.

People who know how to get the juice out of every fruit refuse to retire from life. They may move into another job at retirement age, but they surely do not give up on fulfillment.

My father-in-law moved from Nova Scotia to Connecticut at so-called retirement age. Did he quit altogether? No, he simply transferred his skills from village grocery and lumber mill owner to working in a woolen mill.

In her retirement years, my mother worked as a secretary for the president of a company in Texas.

When Constance Daniels was 91, she organized a clothing and household distribution center in Milwaukee’s downtown.

Lena Genser, at 83, finished high school, then went on to get her college degree as well. At 90, she took up computer programming.

Marian Janes retired from her government position, then became secretary to a college dean of students, followed by church secretary for her neighborhood congregation. Today she spends her time running errands for students and professors. “I am glad I live so near the campus,” she explained.

There is always something you can do if you look around hard enough. God will also lead if you ask Him.

I remember a gentleman telling me that his time was up. He was particularly discouraged with his lot in life. I pointed out to him a job opportunity half-way across the country. I wondered if he would be game. He was. Within a short time, he was gone. Happily, I heard that he realized he got hold of another lease on life.

Mae Anthony’s husband died. She was left alone in her big country home. What would she do with her loneliness? She looked out at a village of 500. They passed by her home every day. The road in front of her property was the ONLY road.

Taking stock of her commodious closed-in front porch, she imagined shelves covered with gifts. It did not take long for her to open a shop. Tucked into every space were the most attractive cups and saucers, birthday and anniversary presents, baby cups and toys, greeting cards.

For years, she increased her friendship circle with that shop. Not only did she make a few sales, more importantly, she broke up her monotony. I have been in her shop and I know the delight which furnished it. One not only bought something, he also spent too much time amiably chatting with the little woman who ran the place.

Porter Collins lived on a busy thoroughfare outside Hartford, Connecticut. A large lawn graced the front of his comfortable home.

Porter was the kind of person who was always sharing something with someone. Therefore, he concluded that he too would build a small gift shop by the road. I knew that he put up that structure not so much to make a little money but to make a host of new friends. He was particularly successful with his friendships!

Edison retired from full-time pastoring. He and wife, Golda, moved south to get away from snowy winters. However, Edison could not get the preacher out of his system. It was not long until he was back on staff assisting the senior pastor, delivering sermons once a month and visiting the shut-ins.

Cynthia came upon a degree of ill health. She moved into a senior citizens’ apartment complex. Yet she had to help people. That was her nature. Therefore, she let it be known that if children had to be picked up for appointments and their parents were not available, she would be chauffeur--without charge. “Call me. I’ve got an open schedule. I’m glad to be of help!” How the world could use more people like that woman.

If you can still move, keep going. If you can still think, crank up the mind. If you can still pray, come before the Lord. He will keep your life filled with His goodness. It usually happens when you reach out beyond yourself.

It helps to get rid of the cobwebs which incorrect thinking has put into our heads. These spider spinnings need to be brushed away--quickly. One might refer to them as myths; in their place we need the truth about growing older.

For instance, there is an untruth going around that retirement age was set at 65 because job output is poor after that age.

The truth is that there is absolutely no relationship between the two. When German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck established the initial social security system in the late l800s, his primary aim was to stop the spread of socialism by making benefits available to workers. He chose 65 as that age to start the pension payments because few of his countrymen lived much past 65 then. Other countries later used that age already set by Germany.

Another untruth is that age brings serious health difficulties.

Reality is that scores of people revel in good health in their later years. Seeing and hearing may dim and the body reflexes may get a bit sluggish. Yet many other problems given to aging are not related to that bracket at all. Proper diet and exercise help prevent or stop conditions such as osteoporosis and high blood pressure.

Did you ever hear someone recite that memory becomes poorer as one gets older?

The truth is that in their 70s, most persons experience a small smidgen of difficulty in remembering recent happenings. Yet other types of memory--facts, skills, knowledge--are not dented by the years.

What about mental alertness declining with age?

Individuals who keep their minds active do not discover a decline in intellectual prowess unless they suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.

Winning in retirement years begins with each dawn. Say to yourself: “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm ll8:24).

Believe this: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

If God is the author of life, the last age bracket here on His earth should be brimming with the Lord’s bounty. The believer is soon to be welcomed home eternally. God is waiting for that child of grace.

Consequently, with such expectancy, the last chapters should be exciting. No wonder those who truly experience their faith are bright and beautiful with the divine presence.

Leo was that kind of fellow. He had gone through a lot of disappointment with his children. He had come upon ill health in older years. Yet when you talked with him, you would never have known any of this.

His face shined. His voice was even radiant. One could tell that this man had won! And he was still winning every day he woke up.

His wife, Betty, said, “Leo is one of the most remarkable persons I have ever met.” And she got to live with him!

Betty, a nutritionist, was an outstanding personality herself. She had worked for years in a retirement complex dining facility.

When it came to retire, she took in the lavish banquet, commendations and presents. But it was not long till the residents saw her back on site.

“I can’t stay away from this place. There are too many fond memories and friends here!”

So--without pay--she returned time and again to lift the spirits of her pals.

Probably her most obvious gift to those about her was her hearty laugh. When she laughed, the whole world turned merrier. She’s another one who should be cloned to make this place a more pleasant place to live.