Random reflections the day after my birthday

My 67th trip around the sun started yesterday.  A pandemic and all the accompanying restrictions was part of the last one, making it memorable mostly in an awful way. This year promises more change as I will step away from pastoral ministry and discover whatever work and service God brings for the next season of life.  

Yesterday started with a 100 children at our Vacation Bible School singing “Happy Birthday” to me in a dozen different keys. I took calls from friends and family,  read through Facebook posts, enjoyed dinner with friends, and went to bed with a heart full of gratitude for the life with which I am blessed. Recently someone asked me if I’d like to be young again. Honestly, no! Each season has its own rewards savored in that moment.  Some valleys I would never want to see again!  And, today is rich with opportunity.

The Psalm of Moses is more meaningful now than it was when I was a younger man.  The fact that will not go on forever becomes more obvious with time’s passing so I pray – “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12, NIV)  That is not a grim thought because I also pray – “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14, NIV)  It is not grim to have an awareness of mortality that is offset by knowing the eternal God now, the hope I know in Him bridging the chasm that I will cross at the inevitable end of earthly life.

Yes, there are some regrets, a few missed expectations, and some as yet unfulfilled dreams.  I choose not to live looking back. Instead, I celebrate the goodness and faithfulness of God, anticipating ‘immeasurably more’ in His plans.  I do not forget that when I stumbled, He was there! When the way turned dark, He was my Light. I give thanks for blessings that are many, the richest of them, knowing Jesus and finding in Him a life that is purposeful.  But, I am future-focused, joining Paul in this desire – “to know Christ and to experience His mighty power.” (Phil. 3)  Each day, each season of living, brings new opportunities.

I have found a treasure in the friends who have walked with Way with me.  Some I knew personally, others only in their writing. Laughter and tears are part of those memories.  I cannot fail to remember my parents who instilled faith, the teachers who shaped my thoughts, the people with whom I work as ‘brothers and sisters’ in the family of God.  Some of those were for a month, some for a lifetime, but all sweet in my memory.  Surely the Proverb is worthy of remembering –  “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.” (Proverbs 27:9, NIV)  

The best life is formed when we are connected deeply to good friends and with solid spiritual leadership.  If you desire to live your best life, to enjoy each day to the full, take this counsel –   “Join the company of good men and women, keep your feet on the tried-and-true paths.” …

Good friend, don’t forget all I’ve taught you; take to heart my commands. They’ll help you live a long, long time, a long life lived full and well. Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. Earn a reputation for living well in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people.” …

You’re blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom, when you make friends with Madame Insight. She’s worth far more than money in the bank; her friendship is better than a big salary.” (Proverbs 2:20, 3:1-4, 13-14, The Message)

Peter offers me the practical wisdom of God. This passage is quoted from The Message. “Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, here’s what you do:
Say nothing evil or hurtful;
Snub evil and cultivate good; Run after peace for all you’re worth.
God looks on all this with approval, listening and responding well to what He’s asked;
But he turns his back on those who do evil things.
” (1 Peter 3:8-12, The Message)

I close today’s thought with a heart-felt “Thank you” to you, friend, for walking with me, for letting me spend a few moments with you in these thoughts. Let’s finish well together, OK?

Paul knew his own life was about to end. He wrote to Timothy, leaving us with these wonderful words which I hope are true for you and for me when the clock runs out for us.  The word from the Word- “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8, NKJV)

______________

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

(Carrie Underwood will bless you with this presentation of a wonderful hymn)

Great is Thy faithfulness
O God my Father
There is no shadow
Of turning with Thee
Thou changest not
Thy compassions they fail not
As Thou hast been
Thou forever wilt be

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning
New mercies I see
All I have needed
Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me

Summer and winter
And springtime and harvest
Sun moon and stars
In their courses above\
Join with all nature
In manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness
Mercy and love

Pardon for sin
And a peace that endureth
Thy own dear presence
To cheer and to guide
Strength for today
And bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine
With ten thousand beside

Thomas Obediah Chisholm | William Marion Runyan

© Words: Public Domain

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