January 30th, 2016
I turned 60 this week. Time marches on and I can do nothing about that. How do I respond to this milestone? What is next in this third period of life, should I be so fortunate to experience it? Othersof my friends have already finished their race, some through death, and some by choice of complacency. Some peaked long ago and are resigned to a slow downward slide into final mortality. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
How might the next 30 years be the best and most impactful? While my body barks at me every morning, joints and ligaments and tissues tell me to slow down, you are not as young as you used to be, my spirit continues to want more from this life. My spirit is not limited by this mortal body…
2 Corinthians 4:16 (ESV) So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
Today my wife has blessed me by giving me a great gift, time with my children in a cabin in West Yosemite. They have come to bless me and celebrate my birthday with me, which is a very thoughtful and wonderful thing. My mind is on how I can best bless them and love them and encourage them to make the most of this short dash that they have in front of them.
What will they have to look back on when they are 60? Time marches on, but we have a choice of what to do with every day. We cannot make time stop, we can only spend it, and how we spend the gift of time is what makes all the difference.
I am just finishing a wonderful book called, “Lead for God’s Sake” by Todd G. Gongwer. The driving theme of the book is that every person has a God given purpose and that purpose is to be lived out from the heart, loving people first, as God’s purpose is being carried out through the gift of life. It is a story of a man who experienced the world’s success, while failing at marriage and every other relationship that matters.
He made a conscious decision to “begin again,” to live a life of significance that was about as counter-intuitive as could be imagined. The results of his dramatic choices grew to a grand crescendo as an army of people revealed his influence at his memorial service.
These last 60 years have been filled with incredible highs as God has led Robin and me, by faith, though adventures that everyone should be so fortunate to experience. Lives have been changed, marriages saved, people called into full time Christian service and bridges built between enemies.
We have also experienced some incredible lows in ministry, where “spiritual leaders” have crashed, some pridefully, others morally and some have played politics, conducting smear campaigns, while violating Biblical principles with man made constitutions and denominational power plays. We passed the age of innocence, and suffered the sting that comes from betrayal and hopefully are a little wiser from the experience. The Bible is full of these same illustrations of human loyalty followed by the cussedness of human betrayal. Bitterness and resentment are not good options!
I’m not immune to these same temptations to function in the flesh, to play the political games of power and position and status that the Pharisees in Jesus’ day honed to a science. Jesus was more critical of the Pharisees than anyone. I know that I have those same seeds of the Pharisees in me, that can produce a “white washed tomb” of death. When some denominational leaders moved into town and started attending the church I was pastoring at the time, Pastor Ray Johnston commented to me, “that can be really good if they are humble, and really bad if they are prideful.” I realize that I have that same choice today as I serve in a new location. My Pride can be my biggest obstacle in living a life of significance, and I want to be a humble servant, usable in the Master’s hands.
Chuck Swindoll had it right when he commented many years ago, “I have nothing to lose and nothing to prove,” because I am only a steward of what has been entrusted to me by God. He has entrusted me with far more than I deserve and I want to be a blessing to the next generation, especially my own children.
So Lord, as I hear my children wake up to a new day and as I observe huge snowflakes falling outside this window, I pray that my future will be as unique as each snow flake designed by You.