Some thoughts on my 50th Birthday. I would not presume that I have earned the right to speak or be heard. I would simply ask you to consider reading as a friend and fellow traveler along the journey. These are my reflections on life on passing 50 years. For some a milestone, for others, just a marker.
Jesus, He is more Sovereign than I ever imagined. All that He has directed or allowed in my life has been of ultimate good. I find something new about Him every day and He becomes more satisfying the more my desire grows for Him.
24 years ago, nearly half of my life now, I couldn’t imagine that someone could become close enough to truly know me, but in my wife, I have found a friend who does. She is beautiful, generous and kind – a gift that has enriched my life and increased in value with age.
Children, the treasures that God gives us which become so much more. Only in a family could there be the possibility that so much energy is contained by so much love that it must be like a nuclear power plant. At times, the process seems like atoms smashing each other apart and it feels as if the very fabric of space and time might rip open, and at other times, the energy produced seems as if it could power a whole city, giving light, heat and life to everyone who is connected to it’s source.
Friends – for me, every new friend has opened a new world, a place not possibly known or entered until they arrived. It seems my whole life has been spent on the move with some longer stops on the way – and my journey is not yet complete, but in every place, there have been these amazing and wonderful people that I have been blessed to call my friends. It has been my privilege to be invited into their lives and share even the briefest moments, telling stories, sharing sorrows, laughing uncontrollably, going on new adventures and best of all – experiencing a deeper knowledge and love of Christ along the way. Thank you to each and every one of you – we will be reunited on that great day together and see in full the story that God was writing through our lives.
Social Media has both harmed and helped me. It makes me crave attention I don’t need or deserve. And at the same time allows me to know about people who I would have long forgotten about. It drains my attention and fills my time that could and should be spent in the present with people that God has providentially placed in my path, and it gives me an artificial sense of importance and power when people like something I say. It is not going away and will continue to evolve.
Parenting is much harder than I thought it would be. Any success has nothing to do with me, but is a gift of God’s grace and is largely in spite of my mistakes. My best and most Biblical advice would be to make sure your children respect you when they are small or they will most likely hate you when they grow up. Many parents today tie their identity to their children which becomes fatally dangerous to both the child and the parents.
Moving abroad has been costly. but I can say that financially it has been the smallest cost – losing a house and the “American lifestyle” – I’m so thankful that God allowed us this particular gift of loss. The greater loss has been time with family, our children spending holidays with their grandparents and relatives, my friends whom I deeply and daily miss their presence, seeing my wife’s loneliness, wondering how each of my children will be affected, this truly feels like loss but I know it is not. Eternally and temporally – this kind of loss is counted differently in God’s ledger and will actually turn out to be gain. We have been obedient to Christ’s command and the Bible says to obey is better than sacrifice.
Think, then say and or do what you mean, without being mean. For much of my life, I was afraid of everyone and what the consequences of my words and actions would be. But by a work of God’s grace, that changed and I have mostly overcome the fear of man with a healthy fear of God. That has set me free to be myself and also to help others in the process. This does not and should not mean a selfish pursuit of my own ends, but rather a humble understanding of who I am and how I relate to others.
To my friends in the West – a word of encouragement. It took me a long time to learn what I was given this life for. Please don’t make the mistake of living only for material things. The world will easily convince you that pleasure and satisfaction can be found in wealth, experiences and even family. The Bible gives us a different and higher purpose, while enjoying and delighting in all these things, we are entrusted with wealth, given things to use and are told to love Jesus more than our families.
To my eastern friends, I would offer a similar message. You have been taught that family is more important than anything. But, the Bible tells us that our love for God must supersede everything else in life, bringing order and meaning to those things. Our greatest pursuit is not education, a job with status, being able to travel and escape the cares of this life, but embracing this life and the next with passion and purpose, bringing glory and honor to our true Father and in the process also honoring our earthly family.