That’s what I’ve been telling all my friends as they hit forty. Now it’s my turn. Do I really feel that way? Yes and no. Yes, because very little really depends on physical age. We all do inevitably run down over time and it takes time to build maturity; but how we use the time we have has a tremendous impact on who and what we are by a certain age. One may make some very broad generalizations about someone based on age, but the individual has much to do with what it really means.
No, because I have this vague but unshakeable idea of some person that I should be by the age of forty and reality doesn’t reflect that image. Each passing year caries away opportunities only glimpsed if seen at all as they flash by. Each year moves faster than the next. Each mistake is potentially more costly as time accelerates. Arrogance and brashness are replaced by caution and awareness of vulnerability. One may learn from experience without growing from it, especially if he learns the wrong lesson.
So I find myself looking back at my life as I approach this particular number, but that is nothing new for me. My challenge is to look forward. I cannot change what has already happened. I can decide what to do next. I look to Yahweh for guidance, because I don’t have a clear idea what that should be.
This I do know. There is no shame in age. The ravages of physical decline are lamentable, but I hate to hear people speaking of being old as if it diminishes them in some way. Women in particular seem preoccupied with the subject as their physical appearance changes. Take it from the blind guy. Who you are has very little to do with how you look. If you spent as much time on internal improvement as you spent on external trivialities your reward would be far greater.
I’ve never been one to respect age for its own sake, though the Bible teaches respect for elders. What I do recognize is that with age comes the potential for increased wisdom. If I’m looking for wisdom from a human source, I’m going to go to someone who has had time to accumulate more of it. Our society errs in its degradation of age. It reflects our focus on the superficial rather than the meaningful. My hope is that I enter the second half of my life growing in wisdom and sharing it with those who will come after me.
There’s just one more thing I need to say before I stop rambling. My Facebook friends already know that I’ve chosen to donate my fortieth birthday to a cause that I see as the next step in furthering my above stated goal. I’d like to see this be the year that we launch Mission Accessible in a big way. If you’re on Facebook, you can donate here. If not, you can donate directly from the Mission Accessible web site.