Today I woke up for the first time being 48 years old. Funny, I thought I would be old by now but I’m not. I still feel like I’m in my twenties. You know it’s funny. When I was in my early 20s I thought it was cool when someone in their 40s would hang out with me at a ball game or something. It made me feel so mature. Now I think it’s cool when people in their 20s and 30s hang out with me! I remember when I was in my teens and 20s I thought it was so cool that John Kennedy was the youngest elected president of the United States, just in his early 40s. It gave me hope that young people could do great things. Today, I think it is so cool that Ronald Reagan was the oldest man elected president of the United States, pushing 70 and even re-elected at 74! It gives me hope that even in my older years I can do great things. Today, I have reached an age, where instead of drawing inspiration by what young people can do, I draw inspiration from what old people can do.
Yet today, as I woke up for the first time being 48 years old, one thing did trouble me. I have known Jesus all my life, and yet I am still so unlike Him. I look around me, and my life is full of people who are a lot more like Jesus than I am. People half my age or less, (And believe me there are more and more of them every day!) who are more patient, selfless, and thoughtful. There are those who are just coming to know Christ who I see making sacrifices and doing thoughtful deeds that I should have thought of but did not. While I should be teaching, I learn from others every day.
Yet as I stand around feeling like a midget in a world of spiritual giants I am reminded of a verse I now see in a different light.
But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant! 2 Corinthians 10:12 NLT
Sure, I understand, Paul is talking about people who think they are so important when they compare themselves to others. Yet if it is not wise for great people to compare themselves to others, then wouldn’t it be also foolish for lowly people to do the same?
When I took up golf I wanted to be good. I kept record of all my scores and if I won or lost. I would be on the third hole already thinking about how many strokes I was behind. Then I read golf instruction books telling me how dangerous that was. These books told me not to worry about my score or how far behind I was. They said to just worry about my next shot. The only stroke that matters, is the one you are getting ready to make right now. Sure you want to stay out of sand traps, and it’s good to know if you were lined up wrong, or topped the ball which is why you ended up there. But once you are in the sand trap the only question is, how are you going to get out? It doesn’t do any good to look at your golf buddy who is proudly standing on the green in two shots. It doesn’t do any good to think about how these sand traps are placed in random places where even people who make good shots can still end up in them. After all, life is filled with random “sand traps” in random places where even the best of people can fall in them. Don’t look around at everyone else. Don’t ask why me? Simply get your sand wedge club and get out. That’s all you can do but don’t feel helpless, because that is also all you need to do! Golf is a long game of 18 long fairways filled with water hazards and sand traps. By the end of the game everyone has had to deal with them all! You are no different.
I am learning not to compare myself to others or look at past mistakes in my golf game. It gets me nowhere. My golf buddies tell me, that while I am keeping careful score, that pro golf champions don’t even look at the leader board till the end of the first round. I guess they already know what I am just learning, that the game is long and by the time it is over everyone will have had their challenges and struggles. By the end of it all a lot of random things will happen to them all. They can’t control what is going on with the other golfers on the course. They can’t change their own past. All they can do is, take their next shot. That’s all that is on their minds. I guess that is why I saw Bubba Watson, calmly hit out of the woods next to the green a couple years ago on his way to win the Masters. Even though his previous shot went into the woods, he won the Masters Championship by simply focusing on his next shot.
The wisdom I found in a golf book reminds me of the wisdom Paul shared centuries ago.
but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:13-14 NLT
So today, while I wake up at 48, and find myself way behind in the spiritual race, I realize it’s not a race against others. Jesus did not tell me to race with everyone else. He told me to walk with Him!
He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. 1 John 2:6 NKJV
I’m not looking at past failures today. I am not discouraged watching those who are way ahead of me in the race. I may be waking up today deep into the woods. It’s okay. I’m taking Jesus by the hand, and we are going to walk together today. He will get me out of the woods and onto the greens that David talked about in psalms 23:2.
So, while the only thing I regret about waking up being 48 years old today, is that I am not as much like Jesus as I should be by now. Nowhere close actually. While I see people half my age, and people who are just recently coming to know Christ, who act a lot more like Jesus than I do. I am reminded not to compare myself with others, or even look at past failures. I will keep my eyes on Jesus, His forgiving, unconditional love, and will allow His love to continue to change my life to make it more and more like His. On this day as well as any other day, I am so thankful for my compassionate Savior, and all my family and friends who love me unconditionally!
You may study this week’s SS lesson here.