First of all, it’s very important for me to say that as you read this, I am still in my 40s (OK, I’m a very late age 49). I won’t turn 50 until next week.
About halfway through 2007, people began asking me if I thought turning 50 would bother me. Actually, until people started asking me if it would bother me – it hadn’t. Of course, there are those, like my 12-year-old son, who put the worst spin on it, “Gee, Dad, you will be half-a-century old!”
So You’re Turning 50
Of course, what I fear most is not the age, but the payback. Didn’t all those people know I was just kidding when I joked with them about turning 50? I can already imagine the kind of bantering I’m going to get:
– “50 is the age of discovery … you discover you’re old!”
– “After 50 it’s a matter of maintenance.”
– “Fifty isn’t old … if you’re a tree!”
– “Remember when you were little and thought 50 was so-o-o old. You were right!”
– “Nifty Nifty … look who’s 50!”
– “If things get better with age, then you’re approaching magnificent.”
It seemed like it wasn’t that long ago, that I was 27 years old, six months married and a new minister at Northcliffe Baptist Church in Spring Hill. This month, I will be almost twice that age; married for 22 years; and oh, yes, I have four children. I can also remember when my weight stayed at 135 pounds (blame it on the chips and salsa at Chili’s); the only pills I took where M & Ms; and the only two gray hairs I had were dealt with by a pair of scissors once a year. People can say that graying is a sign of distinction, but me and my mirror aren’t buying it. Only this past year, I have found myself in the store looking twice at a container of “Just for Men” hair coloring (“Touch of Gray”). I realize that some readers will shake their heads and think “I wish I was only 50.” While other readers will think, “He really is a senior pastor, now.”
At times, I feel like I can’t be turning 50. Just this past week, at one of our local hospitals, a senior adult volunteer called me “Hon.” Granted, as a minister, I am usually addressed as “pastor,” but as I get closer to you-know-what, I didn’t seem to mind that she felt I was still a youngster. On the other hand, after getting a haircut this past month, the young lady cutting my hair asked, “Do you get the senior discount?” Why would she ask me such a question? Her statement knocked the fantastic right out my “Fantastic Sam’s” haircut.
In the midst of all these changes, there is one thing that has not changed in my life – the faithfulness of God. In the Bible, God says, “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6). He is the One constant I can count on no matter what else (even my age) changes. Realizing the reality of this wonderful truth, led me to incorporate the faithfulness of God into my prayer life. On Mondays, part of my time with God goes like this: “God, thank you for 49 years of faithfulness. For 49 years, You have never failed me.”
Now, have there been times when things didn’t go the way I wanted? Yes. Have I experienced hurts in my life that have left inner scars? Certainly. Has my life been stress-free, problem-free, struggle-free? Absolutely not. But no matter what the problem, God has always been there for me – giving me His assurance, His peace, His comfort, His direction and His love.
The Wisdom of
Sometimes – no guarantee – age can bring wisdom. You start sharing bits of wisdom like: “Wealth has nothing to do with your bank account.” “Friends are a special gift from God.” And “Growing old isn’t always fun but it sure beats the alternative.” But no matter what my next 50 years bring (even though I doubt I will be here that long) I will always be able to hold on to the fact that God never changes. He is always dependable. I can always count on Him. He is always faithful. Which is why next Monday morning, I will say to God, “God, thank you for 50 years of faithfulness. For 50 years, You have never failed me.” And what God has done for me, He will do for you, if you will turn to and trust in Him.
Jerry Waugh is senior pastor of Northcliffe Baptist Church in Spring Hill. He can be contacted at 352-683-5882.