I remember when I was in College, whenever I would meet someone in their thirties, I would always assume they weren’t long for this world. Thirty seems like a different dimension. One in which people went to bed at 8 p.m. after watching Matlock and eating at Luby’s.
Only one of those is true.
On retrospect, I was very, very wrong. But at least I can still remember what my perception was. By the time I turn 40 the memory will go.
Yesterday I spoke at Lipscomb University’s Chapel, I got to meet a lot of students there (Let me just say, Lipscomb is doing some great stuff, The Lowry’s are some amazing people who have a vision for that school that is exciting). I was glad that my last time to preach in my 20’s was to college students…while I can still relate.
Henry James called the passage of time a “slow, reluctant march into enemy territory.” And I think I can see where he is coming from. I have dreaded this landmark for quite some time now.
For some reason, turning 30 is more of an Ebenezeer than I thought it would be. I’ve found myself being more nostalgic and hopeful the past week. And since one of my favorite disciplines is to remember what I’m thankful to God for, I thought I’d like to share that here:
- My Family, My parents taught me more than they thought they could. Dad taught me what selflessness looked like. Mom taught me how to love reading. They both taught me how to love Jesus and people…especially people on the fringes of society. My brother and sister, in-laws, nieces, nephews. They taught me to love and tell stories. At Thanksgiving and Christmas and every get together in between, I always think, if I could bottle this, people would pay millions of dollars for it.
- Leslie, Sometimes, in my wiser moments, I still can’t believe she married me. (Remind me to tell you the story sometime). She loves God more than I ever have, and is everything I could ever hope for from a person I get to share life with.
- Eden and Samuel. If I’m ever having a bad day, hearing Eden sing “Jesus Loves Me” (mixed with a bit of Sesame Street) can change everything. The Best 20 minutes of my day are putting Eden down for bed each night. Samuel’s just coming into his own as a little person. He likes to wrestle, and to smile. Both give me joy.
- Preaching: Not many people knew what they wanted to be without doubt since they were 18. I’m so thankful that God allows me to do this. There’s not much that brings me more joy than standing up and telling God’s story. I can’t believe I get to do this for a living.
- Church: From that 10 person church that taught me to believe in God and that God believed in me. To Richland Hills for their forming me and loving our little family. To Highland for taking a risk on a young preacher and trusting me to listen to God and speak for Him.
- My friends: I really do think I’m one of the most blessed people alive here. I have the best friends in the world. People I can call at 3 in the morning, and they would drive across the country to help. At the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life” George Bailey reads the line that sums up the entire movie: “No man is a failure who has friends.” I’m starting to realize how true that is.
One of the most haunting verses in Luke is where Jesus says, “To whom much is given, much will be required.” The past week I have realized that I’ve got a lot to live up to.
If God gives me another 30 years, I’d like to be a better Jesus-follower, a better preacher, a better son, father, husband and friend. But if life ended tomorrow I am starting to realize that I’ve already lived a pretty full one.
Which is good. Because after all, I’m in my 30’s now.