A New Perspective & A New Pilot After 50 Years

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hunger, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." - Philippians 4:12-13

50 years. Half a century. 

Sometimes it's hard to believe that it's really been that long. I used to always wonder if my dad ever felt "old." He never seemed old to me, but I often wondered what 50 felt like to him. While I can't speak for my dad who turns another year older in a couple months, what I can say is that I feel more alive today than I have in my entire life.
 
Now don't get me wrong, feeling alive does not mean that I do not feel oldER on some days. There are definitely days that my body speaks to me a little louder and a little longer than it used to. Joints pop, crackle and grind in a way that a human body should not. But through it all, I feel more alive than I ever have!
 
Some may call it perspective, others may call it maturity, I don't know what to call it except ALIVE! I wake up now before the sun rises on most days regardless of what my to do list may look like. "Sleeping in" might get me to 6:30 or if I'm real lucky, 7 a.m. There's an eagerness in my soul that just cannot wait for the day to get going. 
 
Some people want the clock to slow down as they get older and in some ways, I fall into that category. When it comes to my girls getting older and growing up I not only want the clock to slow down, I'd prefer that it come to a screeching halt on some days. When I think about the fact that I potentially have less days ahead of me to spend with Cindy than we've put behind us, my desire is to smash every clock in the house hoping time would supernaturally stop. But in most cases I walk a little faster and move with a little more purpose. 
 
If you're hoping that by the time you get to the end of this blog I will have explained why this is, i'll just go ahead and let you know now that's not the case. You see, I don't have a concrete answer. But as I look back on my life the one MAJOR thing that is different about me today as I turn 50 years old is that - to borrow a profound saying from my friend Jon Randles - I know who I am, I know who I serve and I know where I'm going.

While there is so much simplicity in a statement like that, there is equally as much if not more profoundness. 
 
The first 30 years of my life were spent trying to please others. The next 10 years of my life were spent living selfishly for me. It wasn't until my early 40s that I started to more consistently spend time with my Father to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling. Over the last decade I've asked Him to create a hole in my heart that is only filled with time in His presence. I've prayed for energy and stamina to be an effective runner in this race. More than anything, I've prayed to be in the center of His will. 

What I can honestly tell you is that He has answered prayer #1 and #2. I think we'll always be working on #3 until He calls me home.
 
God has also blessed me by surrounding me with Godly men that have shown me what it looks like to be truly sold out for the cause of Christ. Men like Charlie Heddins, Jim Leach and many others have demonstrated with more actions and less words what that resembled. They have put hands and feet and real-world actions to the knowledge I've sought through His Word. Men like this have shown me that I truly can do "all things through Christ who gives me strength."
 
As He's taken me down this road of solo ministry the last five years, I've started to comprehend just a small amount of what Paul felt when he wrote to the church at Phillipi and said "...But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
 
I've learned to thank Him each morning for the tightness in my back and  the crackling in my knees. It's a reminder that I'm still alive. I thank Him for the time I save by not having to spend so much time brushing, blow drying and styling what's left of my hair. It's 10 more minutes each day that I get to spend in His presence. 
 
Through the simple head AND heart knowledge of knowing who I am, knowing who I serve and knowing where my final destination will be, I have learned what it means to truly LIVE and not just be alive. 
 
Sitting on my deck this morning, the chorus of an old gospel song rings over and over in my head... 
I have been blessed 
God's so good to me 
Precious are His thoughts
Of you and me 
No way I could count them
There's not enough time 
So I'll just thank Him 
For being so kind 
God has been good 
So good 
I have been blessed 

1 comment

  • Mark W.

    Mark W.

    Amen brother! Oddly enough, not too long ago, I wondered, "...if I were to pass away at the age of 80, how many more months would I lave left on this earth?" My answer came out to around 330. Yours may be closer to 360. Either way, if you stop to think about it, 360 is a very finite and "easy to grasp" number. I mean... My modern world is full of big numbers that I may struggle to wrap my head around. A megabytes is a little over a thousand kb, making it a little more than a million bytes of information. A gig is a billion of them. A Terabytes is a trillion! We now measure the USA's debt in trillions of dollars and the debt calculator keeps flying upward at a mind-staggering rate of around ten-thousand dollars per second! But the number of months I have until I reach the age of 80? That is one number that is not at all difficult for me to grasp. Don't bother finding a calculator or opening a spreadsheet. I think I can handle the math in my heads on this one. At least a pencil and paper will do just fine. If I bite my life off one month at a time, I have around 330 mouthfuls until I reach the age of 80. Now, I'm not trying to be morbid. The point isn't to shrink back in fear or distress. On the contrary, I hope the realization makes us want to appreciate the remaining moments of life which God gives to us all the more. Which is wiser? a) For me to spend much of my time on this Monday wishing it would go by more quickly so I can be closer to a Friday? or b) to spend more of my time thanking God for this Monday that He has given me right now today! Which one is more "alive"? In a manner of speaking, choice "b" is much more "alive" than option "a" on any given Monday, don't you think? Perhaps it is this heightened ability to thankfully appreciate and to live each day that you are alluding to when you say that you are now more ALIVE than ever... Even the number of times we have left to share in fellowship with our Christian family on Resurrection Sundays (here on earth) is limited. I've probably got less than 1,600 of these celebrations left. Admittedly, that's not a tiny number but it is a very finite one nonetheless. How precious every Sunday grows as I sense myself nearing the finish line where God will call me home. Our 50's are a GREAT season of life to be serving our LORD! We are more educated, more experienced, and wiser than we've ever been! Most of us have not (yet) reached the phase of life where physical challenges creep in to deter us from being as highly productive as we'd like to be. Many of us also have also been blessed with greater financial resources which can be devoted to meaningful causes than we've had at any other time of our lives! During our 50's, we are in a really great "zone", one where we can work both HARD and SMART! Of course, EVERY decade with Jesus is a worthwhile decade! Each is meaningful and each is an adventure. (The glory of young men is their strength, And the honor of old men is their gray hair. Proverbs 20:29) Even so, for anyone who has been called to a good work, don't be discouraged by hitting the big 'five-oh'! Now is a wonderful time to start some serious planning and to set some wheels into motion! :-)

    Amen brother!

    Oddly enough, not too long ago, I wondered, "...if I were to pass away at the age of 80, how many more months would I lave left on this earth?" My answer came out to around 330. Yours may be closer to 360. Either way, if you stop to think about it, 360 is a very finite and "easy to grasp" number.

    I mean... My modern world is full of big numbers that I may struggle to wrap my head around. A megabytes is a little over a thousand kb, making it a little more than a million bytes of information. A gig is a billion of them. A Terabytes is a trillion! We now measure the USA's debt in trillions of dollars and the debt calculator keeps flying upward at a mind-staggering rate of around ten-thousand dollars per second!

    But the number of months I have until I reach the age of 80? That is one number that is not at all difficult for me to grasp. Don't bother finding a calculator or opening a spreadsheet. I think I can handle the math in my heads on this one. At least a pencil and paper will do just fine.

    If I bite my life off one month at a time, I have around 330 mouthfuls until I reach the age of 80.

    Now, I'm not trying to be morbid. The point isn't to shrink back in fear or distress. On the contrary, I hope the realization makes us want to appreciate the remaining moments of life which God gives to us all the more.

    Which is wiser?
    a) For me to spend much of my time on this Monday wishing it would go by more quickly so I can be closer to a Friday?
    or b) to spend more of my time thanking God for this Monday that He has given me right now today!

    Which one is more "alive"?

    In a manner of speaking, choice "b" is much more "alive" than option "a" on any given Monday, don't you think? Perhaps it is this heightened ability to thankfully appreciate and to live each day that you are alluding to when you say that you are now more ALIVE than ever...

    Even the number of times we have left to share in fellowship with our Christian family on Resurrection Sundays (here on earth) is limited. I've probably got less than 1,600 of these celebrations left. Admittedly, that's not a tiny number but it is a very finite one nonetheless. How precious every Sunday grows as I sense myself nearing the finish line where God will call me home.

    Our 50's are a GREAT season of life to be serving our LORD! We are more educated, more experienced, and wiser than we've ever been! Most of us have not (yet) reached the phase of life where physical challenges creep in to deter us from being as highly productive as we'd like to be. Many of us also have also been blessed with greater financial resources which can be devoted to meaningful causes than we've had at any other time of our lives! During our 50's, we are in a really great "zone", one where we can work both HARD and SMART!

    Of course, EVERY decade with Jesus is a worthwhile decade! Each is meaningful and each is an adventure. (The glory of young men is their strength, And the honor of old men is their gray hair. Proverbs 20:29)

    Even so, for anyone who has been called to a good work, don't be discouraged by hitting the big 'five-oh'! Now is a wonderful time to start some serious planning and to set some wheels into motion! :-)

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