Monday, April 25, 2016

The Middle Age

I think it was my husband that first used the term. And I'm pretty sure I got a little perturbed at him when he did. Yep, he said it. Middle-aged.

I initially resisted the term. Old people were middle-aged. I might be 40, but that's not old! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized he might be ((gulp)) right. (Please don't tell him I admitted that.) Yes, 40 is half of 80 and, although I expect to live well past that, we all know there are no guarantees.

I've started to embrace the term, though, because it means there is as much of life in front of me as there is behind me. And this time I don't have to spend time learning things like tying my shoes, coloring inside the lines, and multiplication tables. If, in fact, I've got 40 more years and the wisdom gained from the previous 40, then how on earth am I going to spend them?

I recently finished reading Anything by Jennie Allen. First, let me preface by saying, don't read the book unless you want to be a little messed up. Like, "maybe I'm supposed to go to Africa and adopt ALL the orphans" messed up. But I just can't get some things out of my mind. Jennie herself writes that she was inspired by reading Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis. (If you don't know Katie's story, you can read a little about it here.) In Jennie's book (and I'm paraphrasing here based on what it said to me) she describes a ship's captain making an announcement to "abandon ship." And everyone is just sitting there sipping on their fruity drinks, reading their magazines, and working on their tans. But people like Katie are running for the life boats and waving frantically for everyone else to join them. In other words, they see the end in sight, they know the only way to survive is to get in the life boat, and they want to take as many people as possible with them. "Coincidentally" that was also the topic of our sermon at church last week. Living with the end in mind.

I was basically born in a church pew, and I've lived most of my life trusting Christ for my salvation. But I don't think I've ever lived with the end in mind. I accepted Christ and believe I will be in heaven one day, but am I really living like that? If that is my ultimate home, and I am assured it is, then why don't I live like I have nothing to lose? Why don't I love the hard to love? Why don't I serve the least of these? Why don't I risk more? If God wants me in heaven, He can take me there on my way to check the mail. But, since He didn't take me at the moment of my salvation, I can only assume He has left me here because there is more left for me to do on this earth.

With those things in mind, I've been pondering lately what to do with this second half of life. My first priority is, of course, my home. The Great Commission tells me to "go and make disciples" and in Acts 1:8 the Bible makes it clear that is supposed to happen "in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." In other words, start at home (Jerusalem for the disciples) and then branch out from there. So, if I'm not discipling my own children first, then things are out of whack.

But, what else? That's the part that I've really been wrestling with God about. Since the If:Gathering I have been more convinced than ever that God wants me to do more with the gifts He's given me than just sit quietly and hope He's glorified by that. He has given me a voice and a testimony of His grace and mercy in my own life. If I don't share that, then what good is it? If I have walked through something, and then I'm willing to let others walk through the same thing without so much as a word of encouragement, then my pain was for naught. If I know the way to the life boat, and I don't try to compel as many people as possible to join me there, then what?

Not to mention, I have a secret that a lot of Christian are missing out on. We can have FUN in the life boat! John 10:10 says Jesus came to give us ABUNDANT life. And He doesn't just mean when we get to heaven. Walking with Him can be an absolute blast when it's done in community with people who are also in on the secret. Salvation is not just fire insurance. It's spending the rest of this journey on earth walking side by side with the creator of the universe and THEN spending eternity with Him. Not such a bad gig.

What will that look like for the second half of my life? I have no idea. But now that I've thought about the image of the life boat, I can't get it out of my head. I want to live this second half so that, when I reach the end, I'm so exhausted I just collapse into the arms of the Savior waiting on the other side of the finish line. So, here I am, waving my arms for all to join me. The party is starting and I don't want to miss out on any of it.

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