Yep, 40 years old today. I have to say though, it hasn’t been the least bit traumatic. The last line in today’s Gospel reading made me smile. I have always loved these words from Jesus, but they are especially meaningful to me today: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn.10:10). How’s that for a birthday message?!
And I’ve got to tell you – driving into work on this fine spring morning, the colors seemed a bit more vibrant. What a tremendous gift life is – existence is. Think about it: there was a time when we “were not.” God created this tremendous chain of cause and effect to bring our bodies into being and then, at that astonishing moment of conception, directly created our immortal souls! And the day I became a dad, He made me a part of bringing new life into the world! I am so deeply grateful.
Turning 40 gives me time to look behind me and appreciate, not just the miracle of existence, but the way Jesus has filled my life with life – His presence, His word, beautiful family and friends.
Turning 40 also makes me look ahead: my race is most likely half run. The funny thing is – that fills me with hope. It’s not a morbid hope; it’s more like the tinge of excitement you felt when you graduated eighth grade and realized, “Whoa, I’m half way done with my education! Four years of high school, four of college; and then I get to go out into the 'real world'!” I still enjoyed - deeply enjoyed - those eight years of high school and college; but I looked forward to the day when I would finally be “free.”
I am amazed at how faith changes our perspective. Even if we groan and complain about the present moment, we Christians are dyed-in-the-wool optimists: we are convinced that our greatest days always lie ahead of us! Each year that passes we move closer to our Goal; and, hopefully, we experience more of the abundant life Jesus is intent on pouring into us.
If you could, please do this middle-aged guy a kindness on his birthday: Ask the Lord to grace me so I can make the most of the time that is left - that they be days, years, or decades of expressing gratitude and of loving family and friends generously and unselfishly. Pray that I do not stumble or disappoint Him. Ask Him to bring me safely through the finish line and into the freedom and life He intends. And please pray that when I depart, He lavishes a double-portion of His love and protection upon my kids. A sincere birthday "thank you" from me to you!