I really can’t. That is only old in comparison to your own age–some seniors might think I am still a kid. Other young ones might think it is pretty much over for me. In my mind I don’t feel old, but the other day at a thrift store the cashier asked me if I wanted the senior discount. I tried to console myself that she was either senile or blind. When I thought about how she was holding down a job and didn’t wear glasses I decided to think of something else.
While visiting my parents last week, I looked at a lot of pictures. To look at them and then walk by a mirror was a jolt. Then for a Facebook birthday card my daughter Briley did a 4-picture collage with current pictures of me and one where I was holding her as a baby. All I can say is I am glad that I am preacher and my hobbies are reading and blogging and such things. Can you imagine my diminishing prospects if I were a movie star? Besides feeling a little sorry for my wife Alicia, I think, though, that I won’t lose too much sleep over this part of being 45.
I used to play a game. When I was 20, I would say to myself that I was half way to 40. Now…I don’t want to play that game anymore. On a more serious note, I have had four relatives die when they were 45. My mother, Patricia Reagan, is the oldest of 5 children and she lost her brother when he was 45, then a few years later, her sister died at 45. It is hard for me to believe I am now the age that they were. Then there was a cousin and his wife on my Dad’s side who died at 45. I have been reminding myself that I am a Christian and I am not superstitious.
But there is value in the thoughts that accompany accumulating birthdays. I actually enjoyed reading every birthday wish on Facebook, and the day being about me–two great bookstores as we drove back from Tennessee. More than that, I am thankful to have lived this long, to have been a husband, father, and pastor, and to know the growing joys of being God’s child. I have watched my children all get saved and even had the distinct pleasure of baptizing each of them.
45 even has value over 1-44. You might say that I better watch out for a mid-life crisis, but I really believe my beloved Alicia’s paralysis already provided that for me. I felt like a deck of cards in a card sharks hands getting shuffled all around. That is how it felt, but of course, I was always in the loving hands of my Heavenly Father who loved me too much not to do surgery on many ugly things in my heart. I imagine there is more that needs done, but I don’t want to think of that today either.
Age brings some wisdom. Warped thinking gets exposed when the years stretch a little for perspective. I don’t think the same about myself or my life as I once did. Before I was more infected with the common but misplaced thinking that life was a quest to be great; that success was reaching pinnacles, being noticed, shining a little more than those around me, or gathering at least some measure of fame.
I have had the tiniest little experience with it. My blog, so inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, made me more well known than before. I have had plenty of strangers write me or come up to meet me. While I might enjoy it, the little bit of popularity has not made me a better person. I love to help others, and that is worthwhile, but the enlarged presence does nothing for your soul. Then, there is my wife whose disability, and our tagging along in her adventures, really puts us out there. Finally, my children (I love them so much) are gifted musically. People love to hear them and so do I. [I pray I can teach them that having musical talent does not make them one iota better than others who hit a sour note every time they try]. Isn’t it funny that two of the things I mentioned aren’t really about me? The first one that is me would not be so had not one of the main series on my blog been controversial in some circles. Such is fame–fickle, fleeting, and faulty.
Does any of that bother me? Not at all! I have learned what Psalm 75:6 means: “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.” That is to say that God chooses. Why is God not unfair when He promotes one and not another? Because it is not the point of life. It makes no difference. It is not a reward for the value of your life’s work. It is put together by a plan that is for God’s designs. Your privilege is to get to be involved in His purposes, whatever they may be. I pity those who strain and manipulate to rustle fame. Even if you get it, that is but to get to the end of the rainbow and find a leprechaun snickering at you who turns out to be Lucifer himself.
The real success in life is in what God has put right in front of you. The best work cannot be quantified and rewarded. To invest in our children or those we minister to will bring no accolades today, but carry real value. I accomplish more if I go the extra mile in sermon preparation till I really discover what God is saying and lay aside the clever things I am thinking. The audience will never know, but my Lord will. There are plenty of other examples, but I believe you can finish this paragraph as well as I can.
So for all the talk out there about doing something big in the ministry, I am no longer interested. That can too quickly disintegrate into making a name for myself using God’s name in a Madison Avenue-type approach. My goal for how ever many years I get past 45 is to be big in His plans. Big or small, it is about Him. That fills all the self-worth needs I could ever have as I fully believe that life is only about that day my time is over here and I finally look upon His face.
So I really am not worried about being 45. Whether I see 105, or never see 46, I have today to be a willing participant in the eternal saga of His Kindgom. Far from being just satisfied with that thought, I say what could possibly be better?