First, a happy 50th birthday to Shawn Hillegas. In 1992 on our birthday, I saw him pitch in Yankee Stadium. He didn't fare well in that outing but it is a unique memory to have the guy who shares your birthday pitch in the House That Ruth Built.
"Are you reelin' in the years
Stowin' away the time
Are you gatherin' up the tears
Have you had enough of mine"
Reelin' In The Years - Steely Dan
This week marks a big milestone in my life as I turn fifty on August 21st. One half a century, the big Five-O. I can light my birthday cake on fire pretty easily now. Yes, a colonoscopy is on the horizon. It's also a time of introspection. What did my time on earth mean? Some thoughts: It means I remember the Beatles when they were still together and I watched Willie Mays play ball in Candlestick Park. I'm a Baby Boomer and a GenXer - which probably explains a lot of my confusion of who I am. I grew up during the Wonder Years when they weren't just a nostalgia show. That show more than anything else, described my childhood. It means I lived through hippies, disco, New Wave, Grunge and Hip Hop. It somehow allows me to have some sort of perspective on the world and hopefully some wisdom. For some reason, people look to me for that. I hope I don't steer them the wrong way.
"Your everlasting summer
You can see it fading fast
So you grab a piece of something
That you think is gonna last
You wouldn't know a diamond
If you held it in your hand
The things you think are precious
I can't understand"
Reelin' In The Years - Steely Dan
I don't think this is a "been there done that" mindset, but I also notice things that I thought was really important, has become less so over the years. I used to spend tons of time playing, watching and reading about sports. I spent tons of money on movies and music. Now I see them being much less a part of my life. Things are part of life, but they're not the most valuable. How I spend my money and time has changed focus. Time especially, is getting shorter for me, I hope that this changing perspective is helping me get my priorities straight.
"Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends."
It's A Wonderful Life
Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
What do I treasure most now? The people close to me. I think mostly of my children and how much they have shaped me, challenged me and somehow loved me through all of it. I think of my friends in the same way. Over the years I have had friends come into my life that have become lifelong adopted family who have supported me through some of the darkest and brightest times of my life. I think of the fellowship and care during college that came as close to the Acts 2 model that I have ever experienced. It seems during that time I was fully alive and each day was pure joy to live. It was an amazing gift from God and acted out in the most generous way with friends who are still to this day close to me. God has also graciously added friends along the way. I can't say enough about several co-workers who have become close friends of mine as well. It makes the long days at work not only bearable but joy at times. I am truly blessed.
"There's a fire burning in my soul,
It keeps a man warm and it makes a man whole,
When the sun goes down and the day is through,
To live and walk like Jesus did, is the best a man can do."
God Fearing Man - Joel Weldon
But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
So what do I see looking forward? With a mixed past of hurts, difficulties, outright screw ups along with some great triumphs, blessings and joys I see that life is long narrow road. At times, it's tough, lonely and with missteps along the way. Sometimes we get lost. On the other hand, the views are great. The few that walk with you are the most amazing people you can have around. I think my life calling is still about a Savior and investing in lives to help them find the healing and wholeness we all desire. Those like me who have experienced much failure are the ones who know what it's like. I have many relationships to try to reconcile and much forgiveness to seek. But I know what my measuring stick is and even though I'll fall short, I know that it's about keeping my heart right and continuing to heal and hopefully bring healing to others. There is no ego in this as I know that in the end Christ will get the properly deserved credit. I'm only there to experience the blessings that come along with it.
This week marks a moment of transition and in many ways things are the same. I will check a different age box when I fill out a survey but I'll also be doing a lot of the same things I've been doing for that past 50 years. People come and go through the years but many will stick around for the journey. I'll continue to need to seek forgiveness and reconciliation but I'll also hopefully be the one to help others find it along the way. Mostly, I have a Father who is showing me the way, forgiving me when I screw up and healing my heart. Because of Him it makes it all worth it.