Summary: I'm oldner than dirt but I'm determined to live for the Lord in every way as He renews me day by day.
Life is going way too fast…I’m halfway to one hundred and am now officially “over the hill.” This year is my 25th college class reunion, Emily is graduating from college, Lydia is graduating from high school, Beth and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary this summer, and today is my 50th birthday. On top of all that, I received my AARP Membership in the mail on Monday! A man can’t get any more mid-life than where I am right now. All I need now is my cherry red convertible.
For some reason people love to give advice to those who celebrate their half-century birthday. Here are some wise words from John Paul Getty that I’m trying to hold on to: “Age doesn’t matter, unless you are cheese.” Well, since I am a cheese head, I guess age does matter.
I’ve lived long enough now to have experienced a lot of changes over the decades. Here are some differences between the 60s and today.
Then: Long hair
Now: Longing for hair
Then: Acid rock
Now: Acid reflux
Then: Getting out to a new, hip joint
Now: Getting a new hip joint
Then: Rolling Stones
Now: Kidney stones
Someone has said that you know you’re getting old when you stoop to tie your shoes and wonder what else you can do while you’re down there. Did you know that someone turns 50 every six seconds in our country and people over 50 make up 43% of all U.S. households? There are actually some perks that come with being 50.
* Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manageable size.
* Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can’t remember them either.
* You sing along with elevator music.
* Things you buy now won’t wear out.
* You quit trying to hold your stomach in, no matter who walks in the room.
My foray into the 50s has not been easy. When I renewed my Driver’s License recently, one of the workers looked at my date of birth and said, “I didn’t know you were that old!”
I want to share some personal lessons that I have been learning that I trust will also be pastoral in nature. My aim is to give glory to God, not just talk about myself. Here then are some reflections and ruminations on half a century of sinning.
1. I want to live in the moment more than I do. My brother-in-law Mark gave away two of his daughters in marriage within seven months of each other. After his second daughter got married, he was standing in the foyer at the church contemplating what had just happened. I went up to him and gave him a hug and heard him say these words, “I’m overwhelmed but I’m trying to live in the moment and enjoy this.”
It’s time for me to live in the moment and not always be so eager to get to the next event or activity. Listen to these words from Psalm 39:4-5: “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.”
2. Since I’m on the home stretch, I want to sprint to the finish line. I don’t want to coast in comfortable Christianity. Instead, I want to live each day as if it could be my last. Psalm 90:12: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” While Numbers 8:25 states that the Levites should no longer work when they hit their fifth decade: “but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer,” I plan to preach until I can’t physically do so.
I was reading in the Book of Joshua this week and came across these words in 13:1: “When Joshua was old and well advanced in years, the Lord said to him, ‘You are very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.’” Joshua was between 90 and 100 when the Lord told him this.
That reminds me of Caleb, who at 85 demonstrated that he was not content to spend the remainder of his life in the recliner. Check out Joshua 14:12: “Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”
I am so humbled by the determination and devotion I see in so many of our missionaries. From Dave Spangler, who has taken multiple trips to bring help to Haiti to Roger and Maggie Bruehl, who in their recent letter, made mention of some changes taking place within Campus Crusade. They ended their letter this way: “And pray for us personally, that we can be, do and model what the Lord desires in the midst. There is so much work that needs to be done. We desire to work moment by moment in the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray that we can focus on what is important and that the Lord will meet the needs of our heart. We are so privileged to serve Him, wherever He places us.”