Today is the last day of being on the upward side of the proverbial hill, but I wonder what’s over its crest. Today I am 49 years 364 days old. According to my wife I have already had at least 2 mid-life crises so turning 50 should either be uneventful or roll on mid-life number 3.
I’ve recently been reflecting over the last five decades of my life as I prepare for a gathering of family and friends to celebrate my birthday along side my brother who is turning 40 as I turn 50. We are having a 90th birthday party.
I’ve managed to reduce each decade into a series of noun couplets, which I will likely expand in explanation at a later date. Here are my couplets:
Decade 1 (30 May 1963- 29 May 1973): Creation and Formation
Decade 2 (1973-1983): Education and Re-formation
Decade 3 (1983-1993): Restoration and Direction
Decade 4 (1993-2003): Production and Valediction
Decade 5 (2003-2013): Consolidation and Preparation
As I step into the beginning of my sixth decade the couplet that comes to mind is Expectation and Resolution. The dictionary defines these words as follows:
Expectation: the act or the state of expecting: to wait in expectation; the act or state of looking forward or anticipating; an expectant mental attitude; a high pitch of expectation; something expected; a thing looked forward to; a prospect of future good or profit.
Resolution: a decision or determination; a resolve; the act determining upon an action or course of action; firmness of purpose; the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute.
Over the years I have often thought of my life in terms of a preparation for the next thing. Every job or accomplishment is a thread in readiness for the next thing God has planned for me. I think about Moses’ years of preparation after he left Egypt at the age of 40 spending the next 40 years in preparation for a task so huge and so important. I wonder, what is my Moses task?
Please hear me, I’m not looking for anything, but in the deep, deep crevasses of my soul I am sensing and have sensed for much of my life a preparation for something significant for God. Everything I have done up to this point has humbled me time and time again – that God would use me, equip me, send me to do the things I have done for Him. I am content with where I have come from and what God has done through me. I am content with who I have become, and who I am becoming. I have much yet to learn and change, but I feel a movement in the right direction, I’m being discipled.
I am accustomed to having a spirit of expectation as I look to the horizon of my life and wonder ‘what next Lord?’ One of my spiritual gifts is faith. Faith, as a gift, is great because I just know and trust God in such a way that no matter what life throws up I know He is in control, He has a plan, He is with me, He is ahead of me and He will reveal all things to me when the time is right. I also know that when I have fallen off the path He is the first one there is give me a hand to get back on the path. I don’t believe I have ever doubted God’s presence in me and with me. I have faith and an expectation that God will be with me in all things.
I am full of expectation for the future, and I know it will require all that I have learnt to this point. I am fully aware of most of my limitations and hindrances and I know that God will use my weaknesses for His gain.
I am attuned to William Carey’s statement of expectation as he envisioned his friends, family and colleagues of the necessity of reaching the world when he said, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God”. My expectations are high and I am ready.
Sometimes I can be in a mood for resolution, whereby, I might decide to begin something new, or change a habit or behaviour, or even stop doing something I feel led to cease.
Many people do an annual ritual of resolution, which characteristically lasts only a few days, and I count myself among that illustrious company. Sometimes however I have made resolutions in more of an ad hoc basis with varying levels of success. Getting a speeding ticket with a trailer on the back when significantly over the speed limit on the Napier Taupo Highway 15 years or so ago helped me to resolve to slow down from that point onward and generally I have complied… well mostly. Many years ago, probably twenty, I stood up in a meeting on prayer resolving to pray every day in a certain manner. I failed in the method, but I don’t believe I failed to talk with God, even when I’d rather not, every single day of my life since then.
One thing is surer today than ever before is my resolute dedication to be God’s instrument for His glory and kingdom. However, I sense more resolution coming and this will, I believe, be a defining moment in my life both personally and ministry wise. My resolve will be high and I am ready.
As I turn the pages of the decadal chapters of my life, the idea of expectation and resolution feels the same but different; usual yet unique; weak but strong; rigid yet resilient. I feel filled with more passion and compassion; with more vision and mission, to fulfil all God’s purposes in my life and in the lives I’m called to serve.
My mantra verses come from Philippians:
1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (NRSV)
I sense God’s completion work continuing in my life and His strength building within me as I forge forward for Him.
As I click over to 50.000 at 3:15am tomorrow morning I expect an “up slop” to climb not a “down slop” to fall away the rest of my life.
Catch you on the other side.