On Approaching 75

Next year, Lord willing, I’ll be 75.

I’ve always known it was coming if the Lord let me live that long. It’s just that it struck me the other day that next year, I’ll be 75.

This is the latest in a series of what I suppose you might call epiphanies about growing up or growing old.

I have a vivid memory of my mother telling me I was getting too big for her to hold.  I don’t remember how old I was or what my reaction might have been, just that it happened.

When I was 8, for some reason I was thinking about being 21.  I have no idea why.  I was probably too young to be excited that I would be legally old enough to get drunk.  That idea has never appealed to me. It’s something I’ve never experienced. Can’t say I’ve missed it.  I’ve never understood how the morning after justified the night before.  Anyway, that was 13 years away – forever!

Several years later, I was thinking about when I was eight, and I literally and actually had to sit down at the realization that in 13 years, I would be 60!  I was 47 at the time.  That 13 years didn’t seem nearly as long as the first 13 years had seemed!

Now, next year, I’ll be 75.

Granted, that’s actually two birthdays from now, but still, it’s just next year I’ll be 75.  No big deal.  I suppose it is a landmark of sorts.  Still, it’s not nearly as “traumatic” as the idea of turning 60 had been.

A lot of time, a lot of memories.

55 years since high school.

48 years since Bible college.

43 years since I said, “I do.”

5 kids, 9 grandkids.

A lot of time, a lot of memories.

Still, in a way, it’s seems like no time at all.

James asked the question, For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away, James 4:14.  For all the years I’ve lived, in the light of eternity, they’re nothing at all.

Eternity.

Eternal life.

A magazine I get recently had the article, “So You Want to Live Forever”.

I suppose a lot of people do.  They go to great trouble and expense to have their bodies frozen and preserved in the hope that down the road someone will figure out a cure for whatever ails them, and they can be revived and cured and live happily ever after.

I don’t think I’d like to live forever in this old body.  Too many kinks and creaks…. Glasses,  hearing aids, more face to wash….  I’m not complaining,  it’s just the way it is.

Even if they could “cure” all that, there’s still what’s on the inside – not organically, but spiritually.  No pill can cure that.  I wouldn’t want to live forever with the struggle between what I’d like to be and what I am.

Though I don’t put myself on his level, Paul struggled with this.  Romans 7 bears eloquent testimony to the war that raged in his soul.  I know there are some who believe that once you’re saved, you become sinless.  For them, Romans 7 describes Paul’s pre-conversion life.  But no unsaved person can say, …I delight in the law of God according to the inward man, Romans 7:22, or, So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God. but with the flesh the law of sin, v. 25b

But there is still triumph in this melancholy chapter:  I thank God  – through Jesus  Christ our Lord, v. 25a.

And he had thoughts about this elsewhere.  In 2 Corinthians 4:16, Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  Then in 5:2, 7, he wrote, For in this [body] we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven….  For we walk by faith….

“Faith.”

Faith isn’t just about the “now,” that is, what we can get out of God.  He might be pleased to make us healthy or wealthy, but that’s not the primary purpose of faith.  Just in passing, on this “wealth” thing – in America, even a poor person is “wealthy” in comparison to most of the rest of the world.  There are a lot of statistics on this, but I remember reading a post from a college student who makes about $5,000 a year.  She said this put her in the top 20% as far as the world is concerned.

$5,000.

And now there is agitation in this country [the US] for a minimum income of $30,000+ a year  [figuring the minimum wage at full-time].  *sigh*

Faith isn’t so much about the the present, though it is that, as well.  It’s about the future and when we stand before God to give an account of the years He’s given us on this earth.

And Paul wasn’t alone in this.  Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,… 

“The resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

This is the basis, the only basis, for that “living hope” Peter referred to.  That and the death which preceded it.

You see, that spiritual struggle I wrote about earlier?  Only the Lord Jesus Christ can do anything about it.  We might be able to turn over some sort of a new leaf, but we’ll mess that one up, too.

It is faith in His death, in His payment for sin, in who He was and what He did that gives poor sinners like me any hope at all for when these 75 years, or whatever God gives me, are over.  He took a place on the Cross that I might be able to take a place in Heaven.

How I long for that day when, in the words of the old hymn, “Nothing between my soul and the Savior.”

“Nothing between” and I will be able to worship and serve Him as He deserves.

Will you join me?  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,.., Acts 16:31.

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On Cancellations And Endings

A few days ago on my Internet homepage, there was an article about the 90 or so TV shows that were cancelled during 2013.  Out of curiosity, I went through the list.  Since we don’t have cable, and the only “dish” we have is one we eat out of, I hadn’t heard of most of the shows.  There are some shows we follow on Netflix or Hulu, but otherwise we’re pretty much out of it.  Three of the shows we follow were on the list.  I knew about two of them.

What was interesting to me were the comments reacting to the cancellations.  One show apparently was just dropped in the middle of the story and people complained that there was no ending.  They’ll never find out what “happened” to A and B.  When I got home from work last night, my wife told me to hurry because one show we follow was having its finale.  It actually completed the story.  Very satisfying.  Even though we’re several episodes behind on Netflix, we now know that the “story” will end “like it should.”  Silly, isn’t it, to get so wrapped up in artificiality.

The final show of 2013 will happen in three days.  I’m not talking about TV, but about the year itself.  It’ll be time to close the books and start over with new ones.  People will make resolutions.  In the coming year, people will break resolutions.  “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  I’ve only made one resolution over the last several years and that is not to make any resolutions.  It may be a new year, but it’s still the same old me.

There is another “finale” and that comes at the end of life.  And there’s another use of the term “cancelled,” although in this day of e-commerce and direct deposit, it’s probably way out-of-date, and I’m giving away my age.  The younger generations have probably never seen one.  When was the last time you got “cancelled checks” back from your bank or credit union?  

A cancelled check is one that has been paid by the bank to whomever it was written.  It was “cancelled,” that is, marked “paid,” and every month the bank would send the checks that had cleared that month back to the check-writer.  There was more to it than that, but that’s it in a nutshell.  Since it usually took two or three days for the check to “clear,” some people would take advantage of “the float” and write checks and then run to the bank to deposit money so the check wouldn’t bounce, that is, it wouldn’t be rejected by the bank.  Hard to do that when transactions clear electronically.

You couldn’t spend a cancelled check.  It had already been spent.  Very soon, we’ll be done “spending” 2013 and will be issued a new year to spend.   And sooner or later, unless the Lord comes back, we’ll all come to the finale of our lives.  And even if He comes back, that, too, will be a finale.  We can’t “re-spend” 2013.  Except for a few days, it’s already been spent.  And we won’t be able to spend our lives again when they’re “cancelled”.  They will already have been spent.  (If you’ve suffered such a thing recently in your family or among your friends, I’m sorry.  I don’t mean to add to your sorrow.)

How will we spend 2014?  How will we spend the rest of our individual lives?  May the Lord enable us to spend them wisely.