During the past two weeks, this blog has shared a couple of announcements related to a new podcast (Christian Educator Weekly) and a new structure (4L Ministries). Both of these announcements are, in part, due to reflections that I have been making personally over the past few months.
During my reflection, I realized something a little odd. The year ends in 9. That is, this is 2019.
Now, that does not really mean much in general. But perhaps something is hidden within me that needs to be addressed. See, I was born in 1970. So, any year that ends in a 9 means that I am about to face a significant birthday the following year. Typically, I do not care about birthdays, especially my own. But perhaps, and this is truly a perhaps, I care more than I thought I do. Only more reflection will reveal the truth of this.
Why do I think that I might care more?
Well, in a sense, every birthday means that we are getting closer to our death. But some birthdays are marked for special purposes. As an American, we celebrate ages such as 16 (“I can drive”), 18 (“I can vote and am a pseudo-adult”), and 21 (I am an adult and can drink or smoke, for those that do). We also mark the years of 30, 40, etc. as rather significant, even if in jest.
Again, I do not really care about such numbers, and therefore do not care much about birthdays. But, as I reflected this year, I have realized that God has orchestrated something significant in my life during the year ending with 9 in each of the last three decades.
In 1999, I left a successful (and budding) career in a corporation to join a small startup. Due to unforeseen events at the small company, I had more time than I thought I would and that led me pursue seminary and vocational ministry. That year was a major turning point for me, and it happened shortly before I turned 30.
In 2009, I had a conversation with a professor that changed my path again. I knew teaching was important to me but I had not truly considered the realm of academia. That April, while I was actually still 38, the conversation set me on a trajectory that had me expedite the completion of my masters degree and begin pursuing my doctorate. The rest is not history because history is still unfolding, but it certainly changed my focus in the short and long-term.
In 2019, I have now begun another new endeavor with the podcast (launching next month), and restructuring our ministry to allow for future possibilities and expansion.
So, at age 29, 39, and now 49, God has stepped in and given me a new direction and emphasis. Of course, I can point to other dates along the way that have been significant in years that do not end in 9. But the first two years (1999 and 2009) have drastically altered what I thought might be my path, and I am certain that 2019 will do the same.
So, how does this relate to fotonni?
Remember, fotonni is about learning to live in, not of the world. As followers of Jesus, we often see the challenges of this world and fotonni is my way to say the world is backwards. Thus, to turn the world around, action must be taken. And turning the word around is a word-play on turning the world around, so fotonni turned around correctly would be in, not of.
Each of the last three decades, God has altered my projected path to do something that will lead me to also lead others to turn the world around. It is not just my task, however. Living our lives for the sake of the gospel is what God would have us all to do. After all, as Jesus said during His earthly ministry, “The kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4.17).
So, while the dates I mention may be arbitrary, the purpose God has for me is not. And the same is true for you. Take some time today, and the rest of this year to determine what God might do in, and through, you in the next decade – regardless of when your birthday is, or how young or old you might be.