by admin on November 17, 2010
I just realized that my ‘halfway to heaven’ birthday is tomorrow. I admit that claiming any birthday is the true halfway point is kind of like trying to catch a greased pig (not that I have any experience with such; I’ve just heard that it’s tough!) or trying to prove something that is . . . well something that is proof. However apparently the life expectancy for males in British Columbia is 82 years, (which apparently is higher than most of Canada and the rest of the world) and I know that when you realize my actual age you are going to think my math skills are seriously suspect (not a bad assumption either as my wife could attest!)
I am not turning 41 . . . I’m turning 45. (How did that happen?) But somehow 90 seems like a full number . . . a full life and a better number to shoot for. And I figure that as the years go on they will keep on figuring out new ways to keep old guys still ticking . . . and kicking. So that’s where I’m getting those extra eight from. Though once I get to 82 I imagine that I may be done (especially if the wife of my youth departs before me) and not want the extra 8. At that point, I doubt anyone will recall I wrote this blog in 2010 and vouched for a full 90 years and make me live the final 8 if it’s really my time to go at 82. (Just thinking about it makes me think of the funny Beatles song ‘When I’m 64’ or my more serious song from Level Ground ‘Will you love me in the winter?’)
But sitting where I am right now (which happens to be my ‘local’ . . . and because I am no longer in my beloved 2nd home of Britain, my local does not refer to a pub but a Starbucks a mile from my house) I am liking the thought of living a full 90 years. Maybe a more important thing to ponder on is not how long I have to go, but what I want to do with the ‘2nd half’ . . . which of course could only be days, weeks, months or a few years . . . I’m sure the Canadian tourists who just died this past weekend standing in the hotel lobby of a luxury hotel in Mexico had no idea they were waking up to their last breakfast! We just never know when we are going to go.
So . . . what do I want to do with the next 45? (On the eve of my birthday and on New Year’s eve I tend to ask questions like this). Here’s a few simple answers from my heart right now.
I want to know and love God.
That was number one when God grabbed my heart as a teenager, and even though I have done it imperfectly and inconsistently, it’s still number one in my heart and mind. It’s not always easy to figure out how to best do this, but it’s still front and centre most of the time. Sometimes when I hear great intellects (like listening to NT Wright today) I feel my own intellectual limitations, yet I also get totally inspired to keep working on thinking ‘God-ward’ thoughts. . . to keep pressing in with my mind and my heart to know and love God!
I want to know and love people.
This one is the other side of the same coin. I know it’s impossible to say that I love God who I can’t see if I don’t love the people around me. This one is tougher – because sometimes people are hard to love (I know I am sometimes). And so I have to face my own limitations and love those that God puts on my path in a way that is possible (and sometimes impossible, yet enabled by grace.) In this area of loving people, I am most grateful for my wife Joyce, who is such a delight to love and loves me so well, and to my four daughters and 2 sons who keep underscoring in non-musical ways that life is truly about giving and receiving love.
I want to know and love myself
What I mean by this is I need to choose daily to have the courage to do the very things that bring me life – which can be something as straightforward as serving others in simple and hidden ways . . . to losing myself in beautiful and intricate music – and to not worry whether the music that moves me is different than what moves everyone else around me. And I have to say that in this regard, it’s human music that moves me the most. Songs that tell a story in their melodic arc; and lyrics that tell story and convey truth, even if that truth is simply the pain of being human.
And I want to do all of the above in an artful and compassionate way. In a way that releases beauty and justice on the earth as an image bearer of God. I know that to do that, I will have embrace boldness and humility; two attributes that will need to remain linked for life.
May God give me grace for the next 45 (and grace for all those around me that will have to put up with me that long!) . . . and here’s hoping that I do arrive at 90 with grace and gratitude for all that happens between now and then.