Jump Start # 1917
Psalms 37:25 “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread.”
Last Sunday I had a birthday. It was one of those big milestone ones. My family threw me a party and the entire weekend was shuffling me here and there to honor me, and do things that I like to do. It was a lot of fun. All the grandkids were here and we played hard. It wore me out!
This birthday has bothered me more than any other. Many fear turning 40. Fifty gets to some. For me, it’s 60. There are just some reflective things you see looking back and looking forward that you know are facing you whether you want to admit it or not. I don’t know what “old” meant to the Psalmist who wrote our passage today. Our society is shifting in age. There was a time, not too long ago, that few, very few, made it to 90. Now, thanks to better conditions, health and medicines, lots of folks are well past 90. That causes financial planners to map out better savings plans for families and it has given the need for more and more assisted living places. So, 60 isn’t really old, but it’s still a long time. A 60 year old car is a classic. I don’t know anyone who is wearing clothes that are 60 years old. A 60 year old house is old and most likely needing some fixing up.
So, here are a few reflections on hitting the big one, as I have been told several times this weekend.
First, I have been blessed. God must be thanked. Living to 60 years isn’t a right but a privilege. Each day is a gift from God. There have been thousands of those daily gifts. Looking back one sees the multiple times God has helped a person. There has been doors of opportunity opened because of God. There has been prayers answered and sins forgiven. To live this long without recognizing this is to be nothing more than an old fool.
Second, fewer things in life are better than family. The love, connections, stories and history with family beats any trip or any gift. Just being together with the people you like is amazing. This too is a huge blessing from the Lord. Not all families get along. Not all families like each other. Some families hurt each other. Some talk bad about each other. Such a shame and such a loss. The joy of your own children and then to spend time with their children, your grandchildren, is such a wonderful experience and blessing. We can be so busy these days that we fail to appreciate these wonderful blessings. For some, especially those who are spread out all over the country, it takes a funeral to get everyone together.
Third, looking back one remembers great people in their life. There have been wonderful people that has loved you, helped you and been there for you. As you age, many of those people are no longer on this side of life. They touched your heart and made you better. That wonderful impression has led you to be like that for someone else. There has been teachers, coaches, preachers, friends all through our lives. Some were like a comet that came in and out of our lives very quickly and were not there long, but they left a wonderful impression. Others have been there for us for decades. They were at our wedding. There watched our kids grow up. Dear, dear friends. We all have those. What a blessing that is. To live to be old without that is such a sad state.
Fourth, one begins to look back over their life and wonders what good he has done. When one is 60, as I now am, you look back to a working career of about 40 years. The first 20 some years of our life is spent growing up and getting an education. But after that, we hit it hard working, earning a living and building a career. We look back and see jobs that we didn’t like so well. We remember different people that helped us when we first started. We remember those early mentors in our lives. Many hours at the desk, on the phone and traveling. For me, it’s been preaching. Nearly 40 years of preaching, writing, teaching and talking to people. There has been a lot of weddings that I preformed. There has been too many funerals that I spoke at. Preaching overseas. Preaching in prisons. Preaching in little country church buildings and preaching in big city churches. Preached and preached and preached. One looks back and wonders what good was done. One sees things that should have been done differently. Those lessons are shared with younger ones to try to help them along the way. We think of what was said of David, that he served the purpose of God in his generation. That’s what we do.
Fifth, one realizes that there are some dreams that will not be fulfilled. Time, money and where you are in life makes you realize that some dreams just aren’t going to happen. That can make one sad, or one can realize that there have been other dreams and other goals that have been met. Life isn’t a constant. Things change. People change. Many are doing things now that they never planned to when they were in college. Choices and what life presents to us often reshapes our dreams. I think about those citizens of Judah long ago who were taken away to Babylon for 70 years. Some probably died in Babylon. This was not how they figured things would be in their lives, but, it’s what happened. Some of us are living in places that we never expected long ago when we were younger. As dreams change, one thing doesn’t, and that is walking with the Lord. You may have dreamed of being a world traveler and that never happened. Or, you may have dreamed of having a small farm and here you are in the suburbs of a major city. I once had hoped to preach for a small country church that had a white building set before a beautiful countryside. Instead, I have spent the majority of my life preaching for large city congregations. Dreams change.
Sixth, one realizes as they get older that the next twenty years will be a lot harder than the last twenty years. When you are 30, you don’t wonder if you will still have your mind in the next 20 years. That is a thought that you do have when you are 60. The health issues of a 30 year old are losing weight, sprained ankles from playing ball and things like that. When one looks past 60 he wonders about hip replacements, heart issues and other lovely thoughts.
Seventh, if one has been walking with the Lord, one will realize that it’s been a good life. No matter how much time is left, decades or days, it doesn’t matter because the Lord has been good to me. I find myself being much more thankful in my prayers than when I was younger. I find myself asking the Lord less and just happy that He still loves me and hears me.
Eighth, one doesn’t stop until the Lord stops him. A person may retire from their work and they may end their career, but they never stop walking with the Lord. There gets to be a time to step out of the way and allow the younger ones to take over. That’s understandable. But in doing that, one still has lots of good that he can do for the kingdom. Your years of learning, experience and understanding the Lord can help others. You can be that sound voice when others are jumping to extremes. You can be the go-to person when others have questions. Get that family close to the Lord. Use your influence to help others. Years and years will either give you a good reputation or a sorry one. Your choices. The good that you have done, and the way that you have treated others, will either make others respect you or despise you.
Those are a few of my thoughts as I round 60 and head on.