The First Fifty

5-0

It’s hard to think of myself as 50 years old.  Fifty always seemed like a big number.  An old person number.  Yet, here I am.  Fifty.  Thanks to my many friends and family who have made me feel special by taking the time to wish me a happy birthday!

Fifty doesn’t seem quite as old to me now, but it can wear on you a bit.  I understand why some people succumb to a midlife crisis as they seek validation and meaning.  They begin to wonder what their legacy will be and whether people will remember them.  They begin to measure their lives by the what-ifs.  But I can also see the greater joy of staying true and holding the course to leave a true legacy.

1966I have been incredibly blessed during my 50 years.  I was born into a family with great parents who loved and treasured my brother and me.  In all of parenting, I don’t think there is any more powerful force than making sure your kids know they are loved unconditionally.  And I was blessed to have been given that love as a child.  Mom and Dad could have taught all the parenting “experts” a thing or two, I think.

Of course, unconditional love has a source, and that source is God.  Without faith, love rings hollow.  But love that springs from faith allowed me to trust that my eternal father also loved me completely.  As our pastor likes to say, there is nothing I have done that will make God love me less, and nothing I can do that will make Him love me more.  God simply loves us completely.  If you don’t know that love yourself, you’re missing out on the best thing in life.

Mom and Dad also always believed Keith and I would be successful.  Failure was never something to fear.  The belief that the wind was always at our backs was nurtured at a young age.  Confidence in their gifts and abilities is probably the second greatest gift a parent can give their children.  Sure, I may have been an insecure introvert as a child; but I was still confident in my gifts and abilities.  It was an odd mix that served me better as an introspective adult, but their confidence in us allowed us to maintain confidence in ourselves.

Then, as I became a young man, I was blessed to meet the most amazing woman I have known.  Maggie eventually suffered a severe lapse in her otherwise excellent judgment and became my wife.  I still have to convince myself I’m not dreaming from time to time.  I’ll wake up and see her next to me, and I’m just hit with a wave of wonder.  She is everything I wish I was more of, and I cannot get enough time with her.

Of course, we struggled as a young couple.  We were bound to each other through our commitment through Christ and to marriage, but it’s always difficult when two lives blend into one.  Fortunately, there was sufficient grace to go around, and we had a lot of fun growing from two independent people into two people joyfully committed to each other.  I don’t want to imagine life with her.

famIn God’s timing, we were then blessed with Ally and Eric.  What great kids!  I tried – but too often failed – to help them be confident they were always loved and treasured unconditionally.  I have so many wonderful memories of silly times together; it’s hard to understand how I could be so blessed.  Recently, our parenting has shifted as the kids have become young adults.  My role is no longer to be “Daddy the Guardian.”  I hope to be a mentor and guide they can trust to always have their best interests at heart.

In terms of my career, I knew from a young age that my call was to be either a pastor or a lawyer.  If you’ve ever heard me deliver a sermon, you know going into law was the right call.  But I love using my gifts and talents daily to help people who are hurting.  And I treasure the relationships developed through this daily “ministry.”

So what does the next 50 hold?  I have no idea, but I trust the One who does.

In the meantime, since I believe wisdom is one of my primary gifts, let me leave you with some random thoughts I have jotted down over the past year.  If there is anything here you find helpful, I will be happy.

  • Trust and belief are closely related and deeply intertwined, but they are not the same. Trust weighs the odds. Belief doesn’t care about probability.  
  • Your greatest strength will also become your greatest weakness.  Interestingly, your greatest weakness can at times be your greatest strength.
  • Everyone struggles with the desire to place security ahead of holiness; this struggle seems to intensify with age.
  • The greatest and most difficult skill of communication is understanding how to reach others where they are.
  • Confession and repentance are not about obtaining God’s forgiveness. He’s already made that commitment. It’s about gaining a greater understanding of God’s sovereignty and injecting that knowledge directly into how you live your life.  
  • There is a big difference between trying to convert someone so you will feel better about yourself versus reaching out in love as one flawed person to another because you have experienced the joy, mercy, and forgiveness of God and you care enough about someone else that you desperately want them to know that same grace. 
  • Surely, if we understood the real tragedy around us, we would do something to help. But we deceive ourselves into living in fictional bubbles, where everything is safe and clean.   Yet, people are sick, hungry, and dying.  And many are going to Hell because they do not know Christ.
  • The gifts God gave the prophets were never for themselves. 
  • The tyranny of the trivial. Forget the urgent. It’s the meaningless things that crowd out our life and challenge our joy.
  • Politicians and media rarely let accuracy interfere with (or get in the way of) agenda.
  • If there is one lesson to learn about politics, it is this: Politics almost always ends up being about control and power rather than right or wrong.
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