Birthdays

Sometimes it takes a lifetime to learn the value of love.

Today I turned 51. I’ve officially traversed over the Hill and started down the other side as they say.

This past year has been one of taking inventory and figuring out what in my life has value and what doesn’t. With fifty one years comes a little wisdom and this is something that is meant to be shared on the street corners for people to hear.

As a young boy I had a basketball coach that not only drilled us on the game, he drilled us on character. One of the things he said has resonated with me all these years and I’m reminded of it today. If we ask God for wisdom he will give it to us.  (The other thing he taught us was  the 3 D’s of Success: Desire, Determination, and Discipline.)

Over many years of my life I valued wisdom and knowledge above most anything else and I frequently prayed that God would bless me with them. He answered that prayer, but I have come to value some things more than wisdom.

At 51 the inevitability of death is a very real part of life. For so many years I’ve gone without having to face that inevitable event. This week my aunt passed. Last year I lost a childhood friend. Two years ago we lost a young person in our youth group and today I’m reminded that my mom and dad and brothers and sisters won’t be around here forever. I’ve begun to see the decline of many people I love as disease and pain begin to become bigger parts of their lives leading to that moment when they face an end to this life.

Growing older has also shown me how to love others in spite of and because of their difficulties and what they are facing. I can honestly say that it has made me love others more, much more. Death is not something that I worry much about for myself anymore because I’m confident in what will happen next. I worry about people I love… my children, wife, parents, brothers and sisters, friends, etc.

One of those relationships that I value above wisdom is my relationship to God. Over the past several years, I’ve journaled some of the things that God has been doing in and around me here in this blog. Not everything is written here, in fact, I see him working so much these days that I don’t think I could write about it all. Much of it is work he is doing in my life, but so much more is happening around me in the lives of others. In spite of sadness because of loss and the pains of age, I have a joy that I can’t describe.

Every morning I wake with a song on my heart and my conversations with God begins again though these days I’m not really sure it stops. How can I serve you today? What do you have in store? How will I meet today and how can I show the love of Jesus to that person? Will you help me get through this thing or show me the next step in my journey? These are questions we should ask God every day and throughout the day.

For a long time I didn’t feel like he was answering me back, or I didn’t understand what he was saying. I’m sure many of us feel that from time to time to.

What so many of us miss is that for God to answer us we must be in a right relationship with him. He won’t be in a relationship with us on an intimate level when we choose anything else above him. We shouldn’t forget that the relationship is not about us and our wants. We were created for his glory not for ours. God doesn’t want us to love anyone else more than him. This is a dilemma for most of us because we don’t want to give up what it takes for us to be in a relationship with him.

Pursuit of holiness isn’t about being right.  It’s about being in a right relationship.  It’s not what I do, it’s why I do it that matters.  I do it because I love him.  Because I love him, I do what is right.  Because I do what is right and I seek God, he is with me and regardless of life circumstances he gives me joy and peace.

I could read the Bible a thousand times and do good for everyone around me sacrificing night and day and telling everyone about Jesus, but if I do not love, it is meaningless and my effort is wasted.

The value of everything begins and ends with the heart, with love.  Now as I begin my journey down the other side I listen a little more attentively to my intent and I direct my path based more on love than on desire.

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