My AARP magazine says that being sixty five in today’s world, is like being forty five… twenty years ago. While that may be, I have absolutely no desire to be twenty years younger. I like getting old, yet I also look forward to the possibility of having another twenty years or so of being around. I don’t really feel much older, with the exception of being a little weaker and not quite so flexible. In fact, though my appearance has changed, I really don’t feel much different than I did when I was forty five.
It seems that my life, up to this point, has been lived out in twenty one year or so increments. To date I have lived three out of a possible four. It seems as though those first three just flew by. I was recently joking with one of my young friends who was boasting that he had just turned twenty one. I told him that’s nothing, I’ve already done that ….three times. Three times…. Wow.
My first twenty one years were spent becoming a fool and doing a lot of stupid things. A lot of that foolishness that is ‘bound up in the heart of a child’ came pouring out of me especially when I left home. Sort of like a wild river running down a canyon floor. The current of that river swept me down the rapids and over the falls of moral and mental depravity. I spent the end of that first segment wasting it on foolish ways to entertain myself at the expense of what little religion and common sense I had been brought up with.
Caught up in the thrills of the present moment I had no idea how the decisions I was inadvertently making would so affect my future. Not many young people do till the damage is already done. But I guess that’s normal, cause most folks don’t start out very smart and young people don’t always make very good choices. I know I sure didn’t.
By some undeserved grace I got older and my perspectives in life really began changing. After one of my best friends died in a senseless accident I realized if my present course continued unaltered, I could lose the chance to change. This was the time Christ began to reveal His Self to me. I spend a lot of my time thanking Him for forgiving the stupidity of my youth and that had He kept me alive till He found me.
During this brief period of time I learned that if wasn’t for the love and mercy of God hardly anyone would survive their youth. We could have just disappeared in the chaos of self-centeredness. I certainly would have. It was also during this period that I began to follow that love. Christ and His teachings began to be the only thing that made any sense concerning my existence. As a result of that love and mercy I became born of His Spirit.
The second twenty one years were spent finding out what the first twenty or so years had actually done to me. I was a mess; … and what would prove worse yet, now being a Christian, I thought I could do something about that mess. It didn’t take very long, while trying to follow Christ, to see how bad an idea that was. Just a few years into being a Christian everything started going wrong.
All my new Christian dreams and schemes were blown away in the chaotic winds of the trauma of real spiritual life. All I thought I knew, all I had depended on pretty much disintegrated …even my understanding of what Christ wanted of me. Being bad was bad enough when I wanted to be bad but it was downright devastating when I was bad and at the same time wanted to be good. Everything failed.
I felt so alone and so ill equipped to handle any of life’s harsh realities. Life was now more confusing than it ever was before. I fell prey to despair while seeking the answer to the most ancient of unanswerable of questions; … If I really was a Christ follower, why were these things happening to me? Isn’t He supposed to be taking care of me?
If it hadn’t been for His Comforter coming along side me during this devastating time in my life I would have completely been destroyed. Even so I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to continue to live at all. Betrayal by close friends and relatives, with its consequential devastating loss of my family, followed by the death of our child broke things so deep inside of me that I didn’t even know they were broken until a decade later.
The third twenty one year segment was spent trying to actually do something about the previous two. And although I believe I did make some progress, my vision of how very far there was to go, undid me… and undid me more than once.
A few things I learned during that period was; nothing remains the same, it never matters what other’s do, Christ is the only safe place and in the end, we will all stand before the Creator stripped of all our excuses and the motives of our heart will be laid bare. Therefore …every minute we have here is precious.
Now I am starting on what may very well be my fourth and final twenty one year segment. This segment is to me the most important one. It’s all about my final preparation for the entrance into real spiritual life. It’s my last chance to fully trust Him. This last segment will not determine my eternal destination because that’s already been decided; but it will determine whether there will be a smile on His face when I arrive.I am beginning to believe that this segment will be about me letting go of all my fears and resting in His love not losing sleep over every church matter. I am still discovering how powerless I really am. I cannot fix my life, advance my life or bring it to completeness. I cannot build the Kingdom, correct or keep safe its inhabitants. It’s not about what I can do for Him; it’s about who He is and what He has done for me.
I am finally realizing that I will never be the man I think I should be. I am also realizing something else….He never wanted me to be that man. He simply wants me to be His and get some sleep.
One of my most favorite passages of Scriptures is:
A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:1-2)
The Hebrew word which is translated beloved at the end of this psalm is almost the same word my name David is taken from and which means the same thing. That may be one of the reasons it continually speaks so much to me.
He really can build the house and guard the city. I must continually remember that it is His house, His city, His people and that He who watches never sleeps; … but it’s OK for me to.