How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 1 Thessalonians 3:9 (NIV)
This spring, I celebrated my last good year. Less than one year to go until I will officially be old. This is a big one—a milestone birthday, where I will reach that half-century mark. To say I am not in a little bit of a crisis over this would be a lie. I have long followed a theory that in your 20’s, you are discovering yourself and getting to make crazy life decisions. In your 30’s, you need to settle down and get your stuff together. And in your 40’s, you should finally be hitting your stride. But your 50’s? Well, that I am not sure about. My theory has a cliff without an answer.
A few weeks ago, I overheard a conversation between one of our preschool students and his teacher. While he was putting his stuff in his backpack, they were discussing birthdays.
Preschooler: I don’t think you like birthdays.
Teacher: Why would you say that?
Preschooler: Because you are old, and old people don’t want to have birthdays anymore.
Teacher laughing: What makes you think I am old?
Preschooler: Because you are older than 25, and my mom says that was her last good year.
Teacher: Honey, I might not be 25 anymore, but I promise you, I have many good years left and things to look forward to.
On this spring birthday, I received a special card from my parents that had 1 Thessalonians 3:9 written on the inside cover: “How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?”
What if the moral of the story was not about what you had to look forward to, but about the legacy left behind you? What if you stepped back at a milestone birthday and instead of admiring or admonishing your accomplishments (or lack thereof), you looked back to the times people saw Christ through you? Think of how your legacy and perspective would change.
With this as my perspective, I have been thinking a lot about the seasons of life. Because I was late coming into this mom thing, many of my friends have children graduating from high school and college, while others are watching theirs walk down the aisle. I am probably guilty of rushing through life, always looking forward to the next phase or milestone. When my son was little, I could hardly wait until he could walk, talk, and somewhat care for himself. When he entered middle school, I prayed for this time of awkward self-discovery to pass quickly. And now—well, now I find myself impatiently waiting for him to get a driver’s license so he can ferry himself all over town. While that last one is several years away (okay, maybe five years away), it causes me to pause and wonder: what is the rush?
It’s an occupational hazard, but I am an avid blog reader, and I have read at least 100 posts about how life passes too quickly. Before you know it, time will pass, and our children will hopefully move on to the next phase of life. But before they do, stop to consider how you have shown Christ to them. Can you say they have had joy in the presence of God because of you?
Our children’s and family ministry is built to support parents in raising children to know Christ, to love Christ, and to serve Christ. When you know Him, love Him, and serve Him, you will have joy in His presence! The challenge for me and all parents is to give the Christ-like experience of joy—either because of my influence or in spite of it.
I think on this downhill slide to the century mark, I want to update my life theory and say that 50 is not about me or my accomplishments. Instead, it is about growing as a reflection of Christ, sharing His joy with those around me. Maybe my theory does have a cliff with an answer.
Christine Clark is the Ministry Coordinator for the Family and Children’s Ministry at Stonebriar Community Church. She has a passion for supporting parents and helping them gain confidence and tools to be spiritual leaders in their homes. She is blessed to be the mom of a middle school son and the wife of her college sweetheart for more than 20 years. She is also an avid sports fan who loves all things football, especially in the fall in Texas.
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