As I reflect today on this my 49th birthday, I am struck by a number of things that are hard to put into words. There is a strange mixture of deep gratitude to God for all He has brought me through coupled with a bewildering sense of dismay and astonishment at the speed with which my life has passed and is passing.
I am grateful to God for so many things big and small: for His forgiveness and the hope of heaven; for a loving wife and three amazing kids who love Jesus and put up with and forgive me; for parents who raised me in the discipline and instruction of the Lord; for His continued provision; for a body that still works even after I broke my neck and my back (on separate occasions!); for the privilege to serve and participate in what God is doing in Singapore and all over the world; for friends who encourage and support and exhort and sometimes even rebuke me; for Wednesday nights at ICS where I can still play some ball with the guys; for evening walks and talks with the love of my life, Barbara; for incredible adventures in all kinds of places around the world; for good books to read and good movies to watch and good music to listen to and sing along with in the restful seams of life’s demands; for the legacy of godly examples to follow down through history; for a God who uses utterly ordinary people (like me) to accomplish His extraordinary purposes and plans for this world.
So much has been left out of this cursory list, but it gives a brief snapshot of all that God in His absolute faithfulness has done in and through my life so far. He deserves all credit and praise for saving and using and preserving me through these 49 years.
And yet in the midst of gratitude I still find myself astounded at the breakneck speed with which my life has already passed. Life seems to get shorter and shorter the longer it lasts. Looking back on it, time almost folds into itself. There is a sense of immediacy to our past as it is somehow compressed into our present. And this reminds me of Psalm 90:10 and 12: “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years . . . for soon it is gone and we fly away. . . . So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”
They say that once you get over the hill, you pick up speed and I believe it. And yet the quickly passing years of our lives and the wisdom of God’s word both remind us of this simple but difficult truth: You cannot stop time, but you can choose how to spend it. Soon enough my life will be fully spent, so while I still can, I intend to pour it out in service of the One who spent His life for me that I might live for Him.