Recently, The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article discussing gerontophobia, the fear of aging. It reported that old means different things to different age-groups. One paragraph asked, "So what is old anyway? Or as Satchel Paige put it, 'How old would you be if you didn't know how old you was?' "
Now, those are good questions. They don't ask so much for a number as for a state of thought. After all, there are individuals who are old at 20 - and young at 90. Oldness doesn't really have much to do with the number of times we've seen the sun rise. It has more to do with the way we are believing ourselves to exist - with the way we're thinking.
More than 100 years ago, these thoughts about aging were written by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered the Science of Christ: "The measurement of life by solar years robs youth and gives ugliness to age.... Never record ages.... Time-tables of birth and death are so many conspiracies against manhood and womanhood. Except for the error of measuring and limiting all that is good and beautiful, man would enjoy more than threescore years and ten and still maintain his vigor, freshness, and promise.... Life is eternal" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 246).
Maintaining "vigor, freshness, and promise" requires that we turn to God and that which is spiritual; just as important, that we turn away from mortality, with its effects of uselessness and decay. Doing this is praying, which opens the door for a deeper, clearer understanding of the fact that God made each of us spiritual and eternal. Renewed and regenerated thinking about our identity can replace the belief that we are fundamentally made up of a body that will go downhill. The result of prayer is that we feel and act more vigorous and fresh. This is especially true of prayer based on the facts of God - on good rather than on the imperfection of material existence.
If we are believing that we spring from matter (as the Bible says, "dust"); that we've already lived a long time; that the more we live, the more hobbled and decayed we become; that we've been on this earth for so many years, which have been longer and lonelier just lately - then we'll suffer from these false beliefs. Why? Because our thinking will determine it.
There's never anything in thought that doesn't eventually get expressed - and usually sooner than later. Thought is where we either consent to, or reject, what confronts us in our lives. If we believe that decline is inevitable with age, and that nothing, not even God, can help us, we'll be prone to experiencing the effects of the belief. On the other hand, if we understand that God is All and is expressed in us through unending vitality, we'll begin finding that aging - or any other difficulty - isn't inevitable. We'll begin seeing that our lives are actually under God's good control.
One of the very ways to base your thoughts and your life on God, and to find your God-given immortality, may be to stop counting the years. To insist on the fact that God's sons and daughters live forever. Moreover, to insist that they are unhampered by materiality and doom. Understanding that we are not made material, with timetables to keep, but spiritual, with immortality to express, enables us to prove that the aging process is not mandatory. Aging can be reversed through prayer. When we recognize God as the source of all health and good in our lives, we find that "vigor, freshness, and promise" are already ours, here and now.
This is what Moses did. By listening for God, obeying what he was learning from God, Moses proved that years were powerless to affect his vitality. "His eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated" when he was 120 years old (Deut. 34:7). Others in the Bible proved this as well. And today there are people who through prayer are maintaining their health and well-being, finding renewed eyesight, hearing, and agility, as they know God to be their source.
So, you might ask yourself, "How old would I be if I didn't know how old I was?" One answer could be: immortal.
You can read other articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.