A Few Thoughts on Turning 55


‘So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.’
Psalm 90:12

‘The simple fact of the shortness of our life should put down all arrogance and pride.’
John Calvin, Commentary on Psalm 5

'Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.'

Jonathan Edwards

‘Why are you so……old?’

Gru to Dr. Nefario in Despicable Me

It seems like it snuck up all too quickly.  This weekend I’ll wake up on Sunday and be fifty-five years old!  It doesn’t seem possible.  Not that long ago I turned thirty-five…or at least so it seems.  And today as I worked outside using a pick-axe and shovel digging dirt in the construction of a retaining wall I was all too aware of muscles long-dormant and how far it really is to the ground to pick up my gloves.  Tomorrow will be a day for Advil and a heating pad.

Any more it seems like there are innumerable reminders of the brevity of life.  The Bible describes our lives like a vapor or mist; here momentarily and then gone.  This year Judy and I have lost two close friends, both younger than we.  Judy’s recent battle with recurrent cancer and my own heart surgery in 2004 are reminders that this life will not last forever.  Even yesterday on my way home from Medford I had three close calls in Labor Day weekend traffic.  Next year there will likely be more friends gone, and truthfully, there remains no guarantee for any of us.  

In Psalm 90 the writer makes a request of God asking for wisdom in a peculiar way.  He asks God for instruction in the accounting of his life.  The psalmist knew that wisdom could be gained by rightly assessing one’s momentary existence.  There is something  sobering about an honest and searching appraisal of one’s life.  Sadly, this is an all too uncommon exercise.

What would it look like to assess our lives?  What might a searching appraisal reveal?  To be honest I find the prospect a both a bit frightening and daunting.  I’ve lived long enough now to be painfully aware of my own deficiencies.  Truthfully, to honestly assess my life ends in an appeal for mercy.  This evening as I’ve given this some consideration I’ve put together some thoughts.  Here are some random reflections on life at 55...,

Life is a gift.

I am more aware now of my need for God’s mercy than ever before.

No matter how long I live, life is too short.

Death will come sooner rather than later.

Life can be incredibly difficult and suffering is inevitable.

I have had plenty of opportunities for both disappointment and regret.

I have disappointed and sinned against others.

There is much too much me in everything I’ve done.

The Christian life is war.

A lot of my life has been wasted on insignificance.

In spite of my sin I am assured that I have been created for something greater and  permanent.

I have no guarantees about tomorrow.

I am dispensable.

I am not my own.  I have been bought with a price.

There is more grace in Christ than there is sin in me. (Thomas Watson)

It is best for me to keep short accounts with God and with others.

I need to be often reminded that repentance delayed is repentance spurned.

I need to be often reminded that godly character is formed in the accumulation of fleeting moments.

Humility and contentment are elusive.

I have no hope without Christ.

Death itself will one day die.

How we live matters.

There is much delight and joy to be had in the ordinary.

The gospel is true and grace is real.

Christ has been raised from the dead and I will be also.

While I may attempt to assess my days God has numbered them.

My default is towards isolation, but I desperately need others.

It is easier to love things than to love people, but people matter and things don’t.

The grave is inevitable, but it is not permanent.

In all of this I find myself again directing my appeal to the mercy of God, who is the Lord of life.  He has numbered each breath from my first to my last and each of my heartbeats submit to His decree.  Though death may seem like a haunting spectre even it too must bow to His command.

It seems like fifty-five has come out of nowhere, but it’s not too late ask for a heart of wisdom.  In your mercy, teach me, O Lord, to number my days.

1 comment:

  1. Happy birthday, Dan. I am grateful for you and for all of the times you have shared your wisdom with me. I hope you've had a good birthday weekend.