Now that I am a quadragenarian (that is, 40-years-old on the Roman calendar “approved” by the guy in the pointy hat), some have wondered if my family and I are going to do anything “super special” today.
The short — and long — answer is “no.” 🙂 We’ve never done much for birthdays and generally believe the practice of practically worshiping someone on the anniversary of their birth is of pagan origins, which we strive to avoid. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to recognize an anniversary, let alone one that is considered a milestone in one’s culture, and I appreciate the two nice cards that my wife and sons had for me this morning (as well as the warm greetings many folks have shared). However, outside of the opening of a couple of envelopes upon getting out of bed, the vast majority of today will be like most other days — full of pastoral counselin’, church administerin’, summer camp plannin’, and — as this indicates — occasional bloggin’. (Though some baptismal counseling is in there, too, so that does make the day pretty special in one very important way, I must say!)
But I have been more reflective than usual, today. Acts 7 says that Moses was forty when he “visit[ed] his brethren” and made the mistake that moved him to flee Egypt to Midian, where he would tend sheep for another forty years followed by a final forty years of tending God’s sheep. Joshua Caleb (thanks, again, CM!) was forty when Moses asked him to spy out the land. While there aren’t a vast horde of highlighted forty-year-olds in the Bible (I’m not sure off the top of my head if there are others), these two came to mind readily today.
Actually, I was already reflective (it is Passover season, after all), but CM wrote me a message earlier that added a very clarifying question to that reflection (thanks, CM!): “Doing what you are doing, and going the way you are going, what will you find at 50?”
I think that is an excellent way to ask an important question — akin to how Dr. Winnail phrased such things in the “Christian Living” LU class I took the first year, but more focused, perhaps, for a narrower purpose.
I’m tempted to look back ten years to thirty (my entry into tricenarianism, or should it be trigenarianism?), and I ask myself: Would I have pictured this at forty? Picturing this profession ten years ago is out of the question — I was an actuary with a few years under my belt and was enjoying my work thoroughly. I had a two-year-old son and a seven-month-0ld son, and a dear wife who loved me, all of us living in a rented apartment in Texas. Now, I have a 12-year-old son, a 10-year-old son, an eight-year-old son, and a six-year-old son, and a dear wife who loves me, all of us living in a rented house in Missouri.
Still, those are just the facts. How much have I really grown since thirty? Am I closer to God? Am I more teachable than I was then? How many of my sinful or unhelpful habits have I allowed Christ in me to eliminate or reduce? How many of those habits remain or, even worse, have deepened? To what extent is the fruit of the Spirit more abundantly found on my branches compared to me-at-thirty — and what branches are still waiting for ten years on to finally bloom and bud with them?
That will be a profitable reflection, methinks (and one that I will work out in private instead of on the Internet, thank you very much!), but not so profitable as reflecting on CM’s question: Given my current trajectory, where will I land at fifty if that trajectory goes unaltered? And how will that trajectory affect those riding with me over the next ten years?
After all, the past we cannot change, whereas the future we are constantly and continuously creating, moment by moment.
Thanks, CM, for your well-worded question! The evening of March 28 rapidly approaches, and — for all of us — I hope that these days leading up to this year’s Passover are the sort of reflective days they need to be for us to become the most powerful instruments we can be in God’s hands (Romans 6:13). The days ahead of us will require us to be such.