If It's Too Loud, You're Too Old (Not Really)
John Hetlinger is an 82 year-old, retired aerospace engineer, former Navy pilot, and grandfather, who frequents karaoke bars, and who happens to love heavy metal music. He also appeared on a recent episode of the hit TV show "America's Got Talent," where he shocked the crowed, and the judges with his rendition of a song by the metal band Drowning Pool.
The song he chose ("Let the Bodies Hit The Floor") includes a great deal of screaming--like any good heavy metal song would. Hetlinger bellowed the lyrics at the top of his lungs, eliciting a roar from the crowd on hand and a standing ovation when he was done. If you would like to see Hetlinger's performance, you can watch it below:
Surprising? You bet.
I happen to be a huge fan of heavy music--I kind of always have been. This isn't the best cover of Drowning Pool I've ever heard, to be honest. But it's definitely the most inspiring.
The crowd's response, I am convinced, had little to do with the quality of Hetlinger's performance (which was fairly awful), and everything to do with the fact that he was 82 and still able to bellow metal songs and bang his head with the best of them.
I have to be honest with you. When I'm 82, I still want to be rocking as hard as Hetlinger.
Seriously. This is a dream of mine. I don't want to be 82 and watching reruns of Lawrence Welk. I want to be entertaining a crowd of people by singing karaoke to Metallica, or AC/DC, heck even a couple of Guns-N-Roses songs will do.
I have a hunch that there are a lot of people who are reading this, and thinking the same thing. Maybe you have little to no desire to scream heavy metal songs in front of thousands of people, but you definitely have a feeling that there's something still ahead of you--no matter how old you are.
You have this hunch that if you are still alive, still breathing air, waking up with the gift of a new day--that God isn't finished with you, that you still have something to do. You aren't finished by a long shot.
Or you dream about the future, and in that future you are still productive, still vibrant, still looking forward to each day with joy and hope--even when you are "old."
There's this passage of Scripture in Psalm 71 that speaks right into the heart of this idea of still being productive, still giving back, teaching the next generation what it means to embrace the vitality and vibrancy of a life lived for God... even when we are old:
"Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come." (Psalm 71:17-18)
I read about this Anglican preacher named Charles Simeon, who retired after 54 years of ministry. Yet, he still got up every day at 4AM to read his Bible and to pray. Someone suggested that he start taking it easy in retirement. Simeon replied, "Shall I not now run with all my might when the winning post is in sight?"
If you are nearer to "old age" than you once were--May you be filled with the vibrancy and vitality of the Holy Spirit, and find boldness to do whatever is in your power to live in joy, embody hope and show future generations what it means to race to the finish line.
If you are younger--May you be filled with visions of your future that are hope-filled and expectant, and may you live every single day with the urgency and excitement that comes from knowing God is with you always.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.