What are some of the important markers in your life?
Maybe it is a wedding day or the birth of a child or children. For others, it might be related to a move, a new job, or some other significant change. For others, those markers relate to health matters, or a tragic event like the loss of a loved one.
Whatever it is, we all have markers in our life.
For me, one of those markers has never been birthdays. But this year is different. 50 years ago today, I was born. I don’t say that to have any birthday wishes come my way. I say it because it is a number that deserves some reflection.
Over my life I can recall very little of what I was doing on my actual birthday each year. I do remember one day in my late 20s when I came home from work after an extremely challenging day and told my wife (and young children) that “I am going to bed. I will not let this day be celebrated as my birthday.” Well, that may have been dumb, but it happened.
And I do not know yet what I will do later this week on this anniversary of my birth. I suspect that without the current situation related to COVID-19, we might have done something as a family. But maybe not. Either way, I am not overly worried about it.
But this year, I am putting more stock in the day. 50 is a significant number. I suppose 40 was as well. And I can say that the life I lived in my 40s was a fascinating ride. Over this past decade, I had a lot of life changes – almost all related to how and where I serve God. I have had significant markers in most of the decades of my life, and certainly my 20s will long be remembered (marriage and birth of both children), but this past decade of life has been exhilarating.
But 50 means that the future of my life is definitely shorter than that past. Honestly, I did not expect to live this long. I hoped I would, but my diet and lack of exercise for many, many years, was likely to lead to an early death. Those factors certainly have not helped my cause to live past 60, or 80, or whatever, but by God’s grace, I have reached 50.
So, the question is: What will I do in the time I have left? Of course, I cannot say for certain, but I hope that my 50s, 60s, 70s, or however long God gives me, finds me being more obedient in the future than I have been in the past. I say that knowing that I have been obedient in many ways. For instance, just in the past 4.5 years my life has changed so much with the addition of numerous mission trips, starting a new training organization for under-privileged pastors, launching a new podcast, and a few other opportunities, in addition to having more time with my wife.
But as I consider my Vision statement, “To be the man God has called me to be,” I realize that I am not nearly there yet.
As I consider my Mission, I realize that I am not yet loving God as He desires me to love Him, that I can give more to my family, that I can learn to teach better, to encourage others more, to take time to make disciples more and better than I have.
As I consider my Strategy, I realize that I need to exercise physically far more than I do. I can also become better in exercising spiritual discipline (which certainly includes certain spiritual disciplines). I can live by faith (obedience) more than I do. I can be more focused in helping others to find their “Why” which is a part of me fulfilling mine.
And in consideration of my Steps, I must learn to place even more focus on God – particularly in comparison to the focus I place on myself. I need to love Him more and my family better. I need to focus on equipping others more than I have – leading others even as I have learned to lead myself so much better.
I must say that this time of developing the discipline of Sabbath in my life has helped to clarify some things about me. And what I have written above is a part of that. But I need to dive deeper. So, I am going to revisit a series I did on my old blog site and focus on further clarifying my thoughts related to my Vision, my Mission, my Strategy, and my Steps.
I do so because I need that clarity for whatever time remains for me. I invite you to join me in this next journey as it may encourage you to (re-)focus as well. Thus, I am moving beyond the study I have just completed about Sabbath, although as I continue to discover new insights, I will share them occasionally.
Ultimately, this review of my life, my goals, and purpose, comes down to me falling short of something I re-read recently. I have read the words many times, but this time, they struck me deeply. Maybe it is my age. Maybe it is the reflection time I have had due to Sabbath. I do not know. Nonetheless, the words, written by David, are words that I long to be able to say, but would be fearful to say today. The words are really the entirety of Psalm 26, but it is the first three verses that have me shaken. Those words are:
“Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my hear and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.”
I want David’s prayer to be mine. I want to have the courage to be able to ask God to prove me, to try me, to test me. Because of Jesus, my salvation is secure, and therefore I have been made righteous in Him. But I am not yet where God wants me to be. And thus, I cannot say that I am where I want to be. So, as I turn 50, let this number, and this date, serve as a marker – as my marker – for me learning to walk and to trust anew.