Do you feel old? Certain sporting achievers are now deemed to be old – even though they’re still active and successful in their chosen sport: English cricketer James Anderson, 38; Swiss tennis player Roger Federer, 39; Portugese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, 35. As for being over 40, well surely that’s ancient! English snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan, 44; Italian (but UK-based) jockey ‘Frankie’ Dettori, 49. Something, apart from natural skill and hard work, drives them to continue. Love of the game, the thrill of challenge, fulfilment?

Many exhilarating high spots in life are short-lived: the holding aloft of a trophy, reaching a mountain summit, viewing the countryside from a hot-air balloon. And then what? The extinction of excitement? In contrast to the oldies mentioned, one international sports star reached the top of his game, then retired into obscurity and boredom while still in his twenties. He’d achieved the ultimate – but was empty inside. He could find nothing more to challenge or thrill him. What had seemed so intoxicating as a teenager now seemed futile. How would he react to Jesus who said, “I’ve come so that you might have life in all its fullness”?

Where will future fulfilment come from, for the likes of Anderson and Federer once they hang up their kit? Is there more to life beyond the age of 40 or even 50? Certainly there is! Each new day, whatever our age, is a gift and a new step on life’s path of adventure. Expect joys and trials, excitement and ordinariness and, as Rudyard Kipling put it in his poem, If, ‘triumph and disaster.’ Living life to the full, within whatever limitations we may have, and however many candles we have to blow out on a birthday cake, is something to which we can all aspire.

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