It is no macabre thought to consider thus. For it is as immutable a fact as the gravitational pull of the spheres and the fixed speed of light and sound. The onward progression of our temporal existence simply is.
Tuesday marked my 35th year of life on this earth and was observed with the usual pomp and well-wishes from my family, friends, colleagues and casual acquaintances.
But in the quieter moments of my evening, I began to reflect on what this day means over the span of what I hope and pray will be a life of many years.
My youth was filled more with wonder than anything else, a golden sense of wonder which eventually transitioned into the absurd high-tension emotional extremes of teenage adolescence, while my twenties were gilded halcyon days of good friends and a new fledgling family. Now, halfway through my thirties, I would describe this era as where I began to lay the groundwork for the rest of my life.
I am far closer to my 40s than to my 20s, and the meandering impulses which characterized much of those days seem romantic and absurd to the man I have become. My goals and ambitions are centered more upon what I can do for others rather than what I can enjoy for myself.
The priorities of my younger days had everything to do with achieving certain milestones or gaining certain attributes. Now, my hope is to be an asset for others: to contribute to my community, to help my children grow in grace toward others and understanding of the wider world.
Looking back upon this last year, I am in awe with how the Lord has blessed me… by His mercies my 34th year has been overflowing in triumph, with failures presenting only the rarest of hindrances. Indeed, it has been a sublime season.
Candace and I have learned that we will be the parents of a fifth child, whose gender yet remains a mystery to us. The others of our brood are thrilled and have already begun making plans for his/her future, as well as suggesting a multitude of wacky and phonetically musical names. Sophia is keen on naming her new sister, “Princess Isabella Sunshine.” Nice.
My children are wonders. Each of them is a miracle. Daily I’m reminded of all my faults and what few borrowed virtues I possess when I watch them grow into the people they are rapidly becoming. It is a privilege to be their father, and I hope I am becoming a better shepherd to them with another year.
As for my beloved, we are more passionately in love now than we have ever been. Our closeness to each other continues to intensify and we remain each other’s chief confidant and advocates. Her grace and humble leadership of our household inspire me on a daily basis, and challenge me to be a better husband and patriarch to our burgeoning family.
My work as a servant and minister to my brethren continues to flourish. I am honored to sit at the feet of men whose wisdom and compassion both challenge and embolden me. I have received a rich education from them in making one’s beliefs manifest into one’s life. Under their care and guidance, I have seen my own work taken to new heights in furthering the Gospel for my community. As we prepare for our latest venture, I am amazed that God would do so much through a shepherd as frail as I. Verily the Lord is gracious.
The community of brethren has grown steadily, and I have seen the Spirit’s ministry on the lives of many. It has been my honor to simply be a witness to what He has done and continues to do. My circle of friends pours outward, and I often lay awake at night with many of their words echoing in my ears. So many worries, fears, joys, and praises. So many precious ones.
Also have I been blessed in my professional sphere, as my colleagues have seen fit to honor me both locally and nationally. My overseers have rewarded me with a generous promotion and even greater responsibilities at the Henderson Daily News, including the reigns of the Overton News… a project very near to my heart’s love.
Over the last year I have also been recognized by the North and East Texas Press Association, the , and have received special commendations from the Press AssociationAssociated Press and United Press International. People who are considered authoritative in the field of professional journalism have, much to my amused consternation, adorned me with effusive praise.
But I do not mention this to bring attention or glory to myself… I say this because all of it is a testimony to what God has done in my life. For it is from Him that any talent or skill of mine has originated, and to Him is due all fame and glory for whatever I accomplish.
I am a self-absorbed prattling fool for 20 out of 24 hours a day, the only break in this vain parade comes when I’m asleep… and it could be argued that even my dreams are wrapped up in my unseemly conceit. My increasing age has not doused this burning ambition of my Soul.
Oh but wisdom is said to come with maturity, like a fine wine sweetens with age. This of course assumes the quality of the grapes one started with, because a young fool can easily become an old fool.
I still possess considerable folly, and lack for wisdom more often than not. But hopefully knowing how little I actually know will keep me in a posture of humility, that I can someday achieve some slim glimmering of actual wisdom.
Lord willing, I hope I have the time to do so.
Some fret and lament the coming of another year, but I am thrilled. Each day, each month, each year fills me with anticipation for the next bend in the road and for all my road before me.
With the passage of another July 12 I feel the excitement of a man still in the midst of a great adventure. I do not regret the passage of former days but look forward to those yet to come.
As we grow old the beauty steals inward, so a strong and vital old age is beautiful beyond all the graces of youth.