By the time you read this, I’ll be 40.
I know!! Ancient, isn’t it?
Time to start eating lots of fibre, taking out a subscription to Saga magazine and wondering where I left my false teeth.
For many people the next milestone age – whether it be 40, 30 or, as for one of my friends, something random like 27 – can be really daunting. The landmarks loom large as we evaluate how we’re doing relative to the standards and expectations we see and hear all around us. Our youth-obsessed culture is about to write us off as over-the-hill, yet we haven’t achieved all we thought we should have by this age. It is easy to become anxious about what lies ahead, and regretful for what lies behind.
As I’ve been pondering my milestone this year, I’ve realised that fear and regret are not generally considered the hallmarks of a godly life, or even a life-well-lived by anyone’s standards. They’re neither listed as part of the fruit of the Spirit nor as gifts of the Spirit. What would it mean to approach this phase in a way that is glorifying to God and healthier for me?
My answer has been not to focus on what I’m losing, what I regret or what I fear, but to celebrate the rich blessings God has lavishly poured on me, and the incredible journey he has brought me on. I set myself the challenge of coming up with 40 amazing memories – it turns out that the challenge was keeping it down to 40!
I have driven, all by myself, across the USA from Georgia to Oregon. I’ve walked in the footsteps of Paul in Ephesus. I’ve climbed the Monument, the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben. I’ve swum with sting rays, ridden a camel and milked a herd of cows. And I’ve seen for myself that flying fish really do exist – to name but a few of the amazing adventures I never expected to experience.
I didn’t want to just look back, though, so I also challenged myself to think of 40 hopes and dreams. That’s been harder, actually, particularly because just this week I’ve had to move one thing from the ‘hopes and dreams’ to the ‘amazing memories’ list.
Looking back has taught me the truth of Paul’s assurance that God is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”, which in turn gives me faith that he both can and will do many of those things I’m hoping for in the future – and even “immeasurably more”.
I know the down times will come, when I look around and start measuring myself, my progress and my achievements against those around me, but that’s why I’ve written it down, so I can remind myself of the amazing works of the Lord in my life, and not get distracted by the storms:
“In God I trust, I will not be afraid.”
Now, where did I put my false teeth?
Picture Credit: Milestone by Tommy Weir (Creative Commons)