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Reflections at 45

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It’s October 25th, that is, my birthday. I have now turned the ripe, solidly middle-age of 45. I have long reached the point where, by average life expectancy, I have more years behind me than in front. With a nod to those my senior, I do understand that this does not make me objectively “old.” But I do think that a birthday is a good occasion to take stock of one’s life – not to think about what might have been, but in the words of Rush (itself a sign of my age!):

I'm not looking back
But I want to look around me now
See more of the people and the places that surround me now
Freeze this moment a little bit longer
Make each sensation a little bit stronger
Experience slips away
Experience slips away

So where am I now? On the one hand things are worse than they used to be when I was young – my body aches in places it never did, and the pain does not go away after I get out of bed and get moving. There is very little room for wild dreaming; with a mortgage and responsibilities for children, it is not wise to dream about being a millionaire or striking out on some radical different career path. That could also be a good thing as I have already “reinvented” myself twice, once from academic to lawyer, and then again to pastor. But on a daily, substantive level – the kind of level that you don’t think about until you are afraid it will be taken away from you – things could not be better. I have reached 45 with the best wife anyone could ever have asked for, a woman who has followed me through two careers, three States, and more houses than I want to count. She’s not perfect either, so we are not some kind of Hollywood tabloid couple (stop laughing now!), but the Lord has blessed us with the day-in, day-out love and happiness that many a celebrity wishes for while in therapy.

I also have been blessed with four children, two of whom are on the cusp of adulthood, with two more close behind. I find it hard to believe that I am old enough to have children that old! Maybe my father can explain to me how that works. I am also continually amazed at how different my children are, and at times how much like me they are. At times that is thrilling, at other times embarrassing (for me more than them). Because of them, I find myself tempted to worry more about the state of the world. That’s ironic, isn’t it? When we realize we have less future to live in a changing world, we worry about it more for the sake of our children.

The good Lord has also given me friends and family to advise me, to work alongside me, and to encourage me. Never underestimate the great blessing it is to have people who will hold you accountable in one breath and then, in the next, pick you up when you are down. And while I will never be a millionaire, I could not ask for a better occupation and calling. Don’t tell Christ Church, but I would preach for free every week. (Of course, I’m glad that they generously support my family anyway!) The opportunity to minister to such a diverse and loving congregation is more than I could have asked to be fulfilled in my work.

Let me close then with some words of advice for my 25-year old self – or more realistically, the younger readers:

  • Take a breath and relax. (Ecclesiastes 7:8)
  • Be optimistic – not because everything is perfect, but because the sovereign Lord is in control not only of the universe generally, but also of your life in particular. (1 Peter 5:7)
  • Love your family – they were given to you as a gift. (Ephesians 5:28-6:4)
  • Don’t tear other people down, but build them up. (Ephesians 4:29)
  • Work with all your strength and might, as unto the Lord. (Colossians 3:23)
  • And most of all, be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

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