At the age of (almost) 51, I feel as if I am in a season of life where my influence is greater than at any other time. This is not about giving myself a pat on the back; rather it is about the time it takes to learn lessons. After I hit my finger with a hammer for the 10th time, I start to learn both what to do and what not to do. God teaches through life.
And experience can be a very valuable thing.
I look at the state of us men today and it becomes weighty at times. I listen to men talk about their lives, I hear their struggles, I see their pain. I see young dudes without a compass guiding their lives and a lack of older guys willing to come alongside. The generation gap seems to just be getting wider and the chasm deeper.
And so I see guys doing one of two things: 1) either jumping the ship of faith, saying something to the effect that they just are not sure about this “stuff” anymore, or 2) putting on the “everything is OK” mask and quietly disengaging from what is relevant.
If you watched this year’s Super Bowl, you will recall it was one of the greatest comebacks in Super Bowl history. Though the Falcons led for 59 of the 60 minutes of the game, the Patriots pulled out an unbelievable comeback, scoring 31 unanswered points and erasing a 25-point lead. And to top it off they won it in overtime.
I am not sure I have seen the likes of it.
Have you heard of the term “extreme sports?” It refers to activities that typically involve more risk because of speeds, heights, exertion on the body, or equipment used.
There is an interesting playlist on TED that involves such examples as Ueli Gegenschatz wing-suit flying over 100 mph as he races through canyons. Or Ben Saunders, who successfully navigated an 1,800-mile journey from Antarctica to the South Pole and back. Or Guillaume Néry, who attempted to free dive 400 feet below the surface of the water in less than 3 1/2 minutes…all without an air tank.
I grew up in California and loved the Pacific Ocean. Living in Wisconsin now, I miss the sandy beaches, the rugged coastline, and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. A few years back, my family and I visited my sister and her family in the LA area. A fun day trip was going to one of the local beaches. And one of the highlights was grabbing a boogie board and catching the waves and riding them to shore.
Part of the fun was hanging onto the board and floating, feeling the cool water around me and the soft sand beneath my feet. It was not long, though, before all of us were getting farther and farther out to sea and moving down the coastline.
I was not paddling out from the shore nor was it my intention to move down the shoreline. I was just drifting.
Like many around the world, this past weekend our church contemplated the suffering Savior in our Good Friday service and then all-out celebrated the now-not-dead-but-fully-risen-and-alive Savior on Sunday.
Our Good Friday service was intentionally designed: dimly lit auditorium and a somber mood. I wanted to feel the weight of this night. Though I know how this story ends, I wanted to get a sense of how the disciples must have felt on that day that this Savior willingly allowed Himself to be put through the most gruesome and vile sort of death one could witness.
Wasn’t He supposed to save them?
I remember when I moved to Wisconsin, one of the benefits I gained was a beautiful drive to my workplace. When I lived in Oregon, I was surrounded by exquisite outdoors, but my commute to work involved driving to a park-and-ride and then taking a 45-minute transit train to the heart of Portland.
Not exactly breathtaking.
So I had a “first” in these last couple of weeks.
I had the privilege of attending a Sportsmen’s Retreat at Hidden Acres Christian Center. Our preaching pastor was asked to speak to a bunch of dudes about being manly in Jesus and he hit the bullseye. The uniqueness of this being a first for me was not attending a men’s conference, it was the fact that it was for hunters and sportsmen. I have never hunted in my life!
Camo. Bows. Rifles. Handguns.
Bullets. Flying. Everywhere.
Yes, I know I am getting older. I cannot play basketball like I used to. I feel like now after I play I have to duct tape Motrin to my body for a timed-release effect. I played a couple of weeks ago and was I ever sore. So sore that I had to physically grab my pant leg to cross my legs because my quads hurt so much.
Not a pretty sight.
As with all of us, the older I get, the more differently I see life around me. Perspectives change. For example, I with I had known at 27 when I first had kids what I know now about the gospel and raising my kids.
Or marriage. Wow, do I ever wish I knew at 22 when I said “I do” what I now know about loving my wife and how the gospel intersects my wife and I every day. As God has opened my spiritual eyes, I had no idea what I was saying “I do” to! How God has chiseled some unneeded pieces of clay from this work in progress.