Today I celebrate my 62nd birthday. I suppose that I never thought much about this stage of life until very recently. Like most people I lived each decade knowing that life was short and my days were numbered. But I had few reference points for living into my sixties. My dad was this age when I was only 25 so it seems hard to recall him at that point in life all these years later.

There is one thing I am sure about regarding my self. I have lived life at too fast a pace. I have been too prone to pursue accomplishment and jobs finished. This was built into my in childhood through a number of influences and the generation in which I grew up made it even more a vital part of my personal story. I was taught to value hard work and to get a lot done. I did both fairly well thus I still wrestle with how to balance centering and quietness with restlessness and high-achievement. The rhythms of life have not been easy for me to discover and embrace in a profound way. To put this simply I am a chronic over-doer living in daily recovery. Stress is my handmaiden and until around the age of 50 I laughed it off as being a Type-A who just got a lot done. Then the dreaded chronic fatigue issue took me down. While I thank God for teaching me how to trust him in my weakness I do not wish this daily struggle for energy and health on anyone.

Simply put: There is a high cost associated with being in a hurry. What I need is a healthy, non-frantic pace of life that allows me to stop and listen, to slow down and to see God’s grace all around me. I did not learn to practice meditation in my evangelical busyness so learning how at this stage of life is not easy. (I’m not sure it is every easy but it must be harder at 62!)

I think I would describe my daily routines for more than five decades as deeply connected with a “schedule driven” life. Pour on some adrenalin and just keep going. Because of this illness I am learning to accept my limitations. He is God and I am not. Of course I always knew that to be true but I am not sure I lived like it really was. I pray that I can develop a deeper courage and grace to say no to things in the future. The hardest part of saying no is to say it to people. I like people. I thrive on being around people and on being accessible to people, helping them if I can. But I cannot help people as I would like to do. The best thing I can do, at least on most days, is to say “No.”

Here is what I am attempting to do now:

1. Spend time in centering prayer, quiet meditation and deepening my listening skills before God and people.

2. Take breaks. Pause, rest, lay down. Enjoy quiet moments when absolutely nothing is getting done at all.

3. Train my mind, body and soul for more intense times by becoming more acutely aware of the things that life can and will throw at me in the days ahead. I have no promise about health or tomorrow. Learn to live in the full light of this reality.  

4. Seek the help of others. This includes counselors, doctors, family and friends. I am pretty good at some things but not so good at others. I need help and I know it now more than ever. If I humble myself there is hope.

It has been said that ideas do not change people, but people change people. While I do believe in the power of ideas I actually believe this saying is more true than I ever realized until very recently. Even the ideas that have most shaped me have done so because people have impacted my life and their thinking has been a part of their story and became a part of mine. People “encounters” matter more than all other awards and honors I’ve experienced in sixty-two years of life. Value people, God does! Make your life count for Christ and His Kingdom!

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  1. Tim March 1, 2011 at 6:06 am

    John, Thanks for your wisdom. You are valued! Happy Birthday.

  2. Ed Holm March 1, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Well John I am one ahead of you so the memory is fresh. My advice is that you can keep up your speed pretty well, but watch out for potholes in the road and the debris that has fallen off from people like me just ahead of you. There is a cliff on the left that is dangerous and a steep falloff on the right that plunges you into darkness, Keep in the middle and you will be ok.

  3. Sheila March 1, 2011 at 6:43 am

    Well said!
    You’ve got two years to go before you get to be a power of 2 once more (for the last time)!
    I grew up with the Scandinavian work ethic, so I deeply appreciate your remarks. And it is certainly true that when you don’t take care of the physical, infirmity can and will find a way to make you do so!
    I agree – connections to people are what make us human (even Christian)!
    Many happy returns of the day.

  4. John Paul Todd March 1, 2011 at 8:09 am

    May you have an enjoyable celebration of another year of life and service to our Lord & His people. Maturity does have its own unique rewards. It appears to me that you are aging well. As always, thank you for sharing with us.
    Have a great pilgrimage to the Vatican. Definitely a special way to commemorate #62.
    John Paul

  5. Rick Apperson March 1, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Happy Birthday broher!
    Thank you for sharing his bit of wisdom. I just hit 40 and found it has profoundly changed my viewpoint and my approach to life.

  6. Darren Gruett March 1, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Happy Birthday John! May God continue to bless you and the good work you do for the Kingdom!

  7. John Rowland March 1, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I’ll add my congratulations, too. Praying for your work.

  8. Joe Heschmeyer March 1, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Happy Birthday, John! You’ve been a real inspiration to me for the last couple years, and I hope you keep putting out great stuff for years to come.

  9. David Gallaugher March 2, 2011 at 5:15 am

    Good testimony, John. This is something we all need to deal with.

  10. Nick Morgan March 5, 2011 at 1:33 am

    Oooops!! I forgot! Happy Birthday John! Sorry it’s late. May God bless you with many more years to come!

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