Sunday, April 15, 2012

turning 50 - thankful #15

"how do you feel?" that was the first question i remember after the initial "surprise!" and my answer caught people off-guard...
  
"old," was my carefully considered reply, "and not in the good way." well, that put a real damper on the celebration. some people are so much fun at parties! after collecting myself, i tried to explain. i've never been disturbed by the big threshold birthdays -- turning 30, turning 40. those are just numbers, i scoffed. but 50 felt different. i looked at my life, reasonably certain that there are more days behind me than in front of me. in God's generosity and mercy, i've seen some amazing things in ministry, but i honestly imagined that i might have accomplished more by now than i have. and i've started to wonder: maybe this is as good as it gets. maybe my best days are behind me....

i can only imagine what people must have been thinking. but thankfully, my friends are both kind and loving. "no," they said firmly, "that's not true." in the message i preached that sunday, i cracked that had they been less gracious, they might have said, "get behind me, satan!" but either way, i got it. when it comes to spiritual warfare, i'm less likely these days to have head-on power encounters with the enemy than i am to fall prey to various lies that discourage and threaten to defeat me. and it was time to proclaim the truth and stand on it. i am a son of God; his Spirit lives in me and empowers me for a supernatural way of life. and whatever has been done (and not done) up to this point, he isn't through with me yet. being reminded of that again was a wonderful gift.

and it wasn't the only one for the day. m had asked months ago whether i wanted her to do anything special for my 50th birthday (i.e. throw a big party), and i assured her that i didn't need or want a party. but as the date drew nearer, i found myself regretting that choice. it dawned on me that what i sometimes think of as humility (don't want to make a big deal out of myself) might not be experienced by others in the same way. in fact, in my nightmare scenario, i'd get to the end of my life and people would feel like they must not have been very close to me or that i didn't care about them that much because i never included them in the major events in my life. that thought was killing me. i really do love people, and they are important to me. i guess i have a lot of learning to do about how to demonstrate that. anyhow, as the time for my birthday grew closer, i was wishing that i had chosen the party. but it felt too late to switch. how could i change my mind so close to the day? how could i put that kind of pressure on m? it was too late. i had made my bed, and i would need to lie in it.

what a joyful surprise to find so many people there, waiting to celebrate... me. i was humbled and not a little self-conscious -- but also very, very grateful. i am the recipient of so many good gifts: good friends, a wife who loves me (and knows when not to listen to me), and a God who sometimes gives me the secret desire of my heart, even when i haven't asked.

2 comments:

spj said...

this was a very sweet sentiment you expressed and I can understand that feeling of not wanting to have a party/make a fuss...I always feel that, especially because my b-day is so close to Christmas. However at 45, some dear friends came to celebrate me, even in the busy Christmas season and I was very blessed. It sounds like you were too!

gr8god said...

thanks for sharing, spj. yes, i was blessed; it was a wonderful day!