Lessons from Turning 50!

I turned 50 this week.  Am I old?  A friend of mine wisely said, “You are old when you spend more time talking about your memories than your dreams.”  By that definition I am not old.  I still believe God can use me to make a Kingdom difference.  Sometimes I get in the way of His work, but when I remember the top three things I’ve learned in half a century He shows up in a powerful way.  Here are the top three lessons I’ve embraced:

Lesson 1 – Life is not about you.  As a young man I wanted to make my mark on the world.  I swore I would never be poor.  I was going to be a high powered lawyer.  I had to learn a simple truth – There is a God, and I am not Him.   Sounds easy, but a lot of people make the mistake of thinking they are the center of the universe.  So much conversation revolves around the person talking and many of us are willing to sacrifice almost anything to be right, be heard, and be appreciated.  That was me.  But God taught me the path of humility through suffering.  He asked me to join Him in His sufferings.  He asked me to give up all my money and position to serve others who were suffering and after trying the Jonah route, I obeyed.  That story is in Gospel Justice, but it remains an ongoing lesson.  Humility.

Lesson 2 – Life is about love.   I am amazed how complicated life was when I was young.  So much to do.  I was working hard to get ahead and never really stopped to ask why.  As a young lawyer I believed issues had multiple sides and criticized those who could not see that.  But life really isn’t complicated.  Life is about love.  Jesus said to love God and love your neighbor.   He said the world would know us by our love.  Not a sappy love, but an authentic self-sacrificing love.  A love that would lay down one’s life for someone else.  That love puts others first.  That love even loves enemies.  That love demonstrates mercy and grace and compassion.  I have a young friend, Ben Calhoun who is the lead singer for Citizen Way.  He has a song called Love is the Evidence.   As a lawyer I’m partial to evidence.  The song states, “Mercy and grace and compassion, there only words without action. I need hands that are open, reaching out for broken hearts ‘cause that’s the only way this world would ever know who you are – love is the evidence.”  Love requires action.  We were not put here to go through life as spectators.  Get in on the action.  Love God.  Love others.  Love.

Lesson 3 – Be grateful.  I often get asked my life verse.  I’m a Jesus and Justice lover.  With more than 2,000 verses on justice for the poor, you’d expect me to pick one of those, but that is not the case.  I try to live by 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:  “Rejoice always.  Pray continually.  In all circumstances give thanks for this is the will of God through Christ Jesus our Lord.”  I once had a lot of stuff, but it didn’t make me happy.  Stuff never can.  Rejoicing comes from being content whatever your circumstance.  Prayer and an understanding of God’s word are anchors in this unjust world.  Nothing promotes justice more than prayer.  And the secret to joy is found in giving thanks.  An attitude of gratitude is powerful medicine in the face of suffering.  My gratitude is not rooted in my surroundings but in my Savior.  Every day the first words I say are, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”  The world can take much from me, but it can never rob me of my joy in Jesus.  Thanks.

Humility.  Love.  Thanks.  I encourage you to practice these three words daily.  I firmly believe God can and will do amazing things through you if you get out of His way, love people, and give thanks in all circumstances.   My hair is graying, my eyes need reading glasses, and my body doesn’t operate like it once did, but my heart and my soul are stronger than ever.  I hope you’ll take these words from a 50 year old  to heart as you pursue God’s will in your life and

Go and Do Likewise.