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Obsolescence

Art Linkletter is national chairman for United Seniors Association, the 1.5 million-plus member organization that is committed to expanding "economic freedom and health freedom for Senior Americans, their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren." He is one of the most respected and beloved media personalities in America. His best-known production, "People are Funny," ran on NBC-TV and Radio for 19 years and was rated in the Top 10 productions for more than 11 years.

Linkletter's books, Kids Say the [-est.] Things, was one of the top 14 best sellers in American publishing history and was one of 23 books he has written. His most famous recent national best seller is Old Age Is Not for Sissies. Here is one of Linkletter's quotes about old age: The four stages of life are infancy, childhood, adolescence, and obsolescence.

I believe it is safe to say that the first three stages are chronological. The fourth stage can come at any age, but most likely after puberty. However, society tends to reserve the term obsolescence for older adults. Society is wrong, of course. Obsolescence is an attitude. It exists in the minds of those who allow it to exist. It exists only because it is allowed to exist.

The dictionary defines obsolescence as "passing out of use or usefulness, or becoming obsolete." Among my close friends are dozens of people who are retired or who are no longer "gainfully employed." Those two categories are not necessarily the same. But no matter. Not one of these friends is obsolete. They are vibrant, positive, forward-looking, and some of them are even enthusiastic about who they are and where they are going in this life and beyond. They laugh, and they cry—occasionally at the same time. Their smile may catch you off guard; you cannot remain somber-looking when they smile at you.

Most of these friends are not rich. They live modest lives. Some of them live in very nice homes, but they have discovered that home is a place where children are born and raised, where friends and family gather and enjoy one another. The house they live in does not define them. It is a place where memories are made and celebrated. What defines them are their values, their faith, their trust in God, their belief in each other, and their hope for the future.

If you have just heard some story right off the rumor hotline, don't waste your time sharing it with these friends. They are quick to agree with Solomon, "There is nothing new under the sun." If you want to complain about the old songs we never sing in church anymore, go somewhere else to complain. These friends have learned how to adjust, and they do it rather well.

They may have some free advice to offer, but you will not like it. Their favorite line is, "Get over it." These folks are never late to meetings.

  • •They would rather be an hour early than a minute late.
    • love to tell jokes—often on themselves.
    •know how to pray—they do it many times every day.
    •prefer to sit than to stand (who in their right mind prefers standing over sitting?)
    •have learned how to love deeply. Ask their grandchildren.
    •mean what they say, and say what they mean. They can be blunt. Good for them!
    •have learned how to forgive. They know that not forgiving is a painful existence.
    •remember what it feels like to win and how to lose. They prefer to win.
  • Are they obsolete? Nope. They have the most fantastic future available to anyone.

—Tom Barnard "They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing" —Psalm 94:14

via Glad Tidings of Good Things
Volume 11 (August 3, 2006), page 3