I was talking to a friend today who is the pastor of a church in Indiana. The subject of “growing older” came up and he told me about a conversation he had with some of the kids in his Chi Rho (Jr. High) youth group. At some point he told them he was in his mid-forties. They said, “No you’re not, you are in you LATE forties.” My friend, who is 47, went on to explain that “mid-forties” actually encompasses the ages 44 through 49. They weren’t buying it. In the end, he had to confess that he was, indeed, getting older.
Being that my friend and I are approximately the same age, I suppose I fall into the same category. Watching your kids grow up is one good reminder of that fact (my mom likes to remind me I had already made her a grandmother when she was 46). The passage of time never slows down. The older we get the faster it seems to go! The babies for whom I had dedications when I first came to Central are now teenagers. The babies I knew in my first years out of seminary are now considered “old” by their own children (there is justice in this world!).
For the past week, I have been following the threads of my family’s genealogy. Technology allows for the “real” genealogists to share the hard work they have done with the rest of us. Even so, it is time consuming. Nearly every thread I follow takes me back through what seems like countless generations. I’m beginning to appreciate God’s promise to Abraham to make his children as numerous as “the grains of sand on the beach or the stars in the sky.
Every now and then I will run across an ancestor who has made a significant mark in the world. Oftentimes, there will be pictures and documents attached to this person. I’m proud to have some famous DNA in my gene pool. However, most of my ancestors – like most of yours – were very ordinary. Even Oliver Cromwell – who I discovered in my genealogy last night – wasn’t anything special. Despite the fact he lived hundreds of years ago, he only happened to share a name with someone who was famous. Other than the year of his birth and death – I doubt if anyone remembers anything about him.
When I think about all the time people waste worrying about what others think – I realize spending a little time with your genealogy might not be such a bad idea. As someone once told me when I was stewing about a bad grade I received on some test or paper – “Do you really think anyone, including you, will even remember this 10 or 20 years from now?” Whoever said that was right.
So, should we be concerned about the way we live our lives? Absolutely. Like the Apostle Paul, we don’t live our lives
to please or impress others or to leave a legacy. We seek to live our lives faithfully and righteously because we are children of a holy God and disciples of the One who showed us who and what God is like. As Paul wrote to his friends in Philippi, “Not that I have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me… Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:12-15)
That is something worth living (and dying) for – in this and every generation.