Well, it’s not really a secret that I had a birthday this past weekend. I turned 40. Now, on the one hand, you have people who say that ‘age is just a number.’ So, turning 40 is not really a big deal. And besides, ’40 is the new 30,’ if the magazines are to be believed.
Except the number means something. At 40, I’m past the midpoint of the average life expectancy of an American man (76). Also, every part I’ve got has been in use for 40 years. 40 years of wear and tear, including the abuses of youthful stupidity on joints and such, coupled with the metabolism slowdown that puts more weight on the knees than they should have.
Age is more than just a number, it’s also a marker of how long I’ve been around. And while some people were trying to poke fun at the age, it dawned on me (in true Captain Obvious fashion) that my age is an accomplishment.
I have worked all my life, after all, to reach this age. It’s taken me 40 years to get this old. That’s an accomplishment. What else have I ever worked this long for?
That, though, leads to the next question. What else have I ever worked very long on? And what else is worthy of the pursuit of a lifetime? Because age is just a number. It does not mean you’ve accomplished anything but living. And lots of people live to 40.
What is my life worth? I know what my life insurance is worth. But that’s not the worth of my life.
What have I done with it? What would be said of me?
Would my neighbors see me as someone who lived out the purpose of Jesus? Would my family?
Have I raised my children, so far, to both miss me and be able to succeed and go forward in life without me?
Or have I, in the selfishness of my own heart, built a world around me that cannot function if I am not there?
If I have worked all my life to get this age, what else have I accomplished? I got to the top of the hill, but what else?
I have carried unnecessary weight to the top. Both physically and emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. I have every intention of coming down the hill lighter.
To that end, I got up an exercised again this morning. That’s more days this year than not. It’s a start. To the others, I am striving to pare down everything. Less stuff. More understanding. Fewer contacts and acquaintences. More relationships and community.
Less religious foofaraw. More depth of love for Christ the King and through Him, for my neighbors.
This is where I am. I’m 40. When I was a teenager I realized I had a few great desires in life: to know Jesus and make Him known; to teach; to write; and to love a good woman. Fortunately, God is allowing me to make progress on all of these. I am working to do the first, I am studying to be equipped to the second, I am constantly attempting the third, and these last 18 years have been the first steps of the fourth.
(What about the kids? How many teenage boys you think really plot having kids? They’d be a fifth added a bit later…)
May I spend the next 40 continuing to improve in all of these, and may it be of service to God and my fellowman.