I just got back from my morning walk, feeling very much at peace with life, and pondering the journey I’ve been on these 60 years. I’m going to give you a quick overview of life stages and what I learned through each.
Drifting Years 1-21: I pretty much absorbed whatever was around me and went with the flow. I did what I had to do in school to be able to play sports. I was a late bloomer and really didn’t do anything in high school to prepare me for college or a career. I would never have been voted most likely to succeed! I never read or really cared about doing much to develop myself. I did go to community college because I didn’t like my job of factory work.
Discovery Years 21-32: At twenty-one my course changed. Gayle and I had been married two years and we were in trouble. We got invited to church by Gayle’s cousin and started going. I came to know the Lord personally that year. As a young married couple our TV blew the picture tube and we couldn’t afford to replace it. I began to read the Bible every night and read it through probably 25 times during that time. We got very involved in church. I became a voracious reader and wanted to know about everything I could learn. We moved and I went to Bible College and spent years 25-32 formally studying the Bible and theology. The kid who never tried graduated Summa Cum Laude with the highest GPA in our graduating class.
Spiritual Breaking Years 32-39: My first pastorate was a small country church in rural North Carolina. I was certain I had the stuff to make it happen. During this season, the Lord broke me spiritually. He humbled me to see with all my best efforts, I could not grow that church. Through a major breaking and surrender the Lord did in a few months what I hadn’t been able to do in four and a half years! The church exploded with growth after the breaking.
Emotional Breaking Years 40-50: I was never taught about emotional health. Though Scripture teaches we are spiritual, emotional and physical beings, the emphasis where I was taught was always on the spiritual. During these years the Lord showed me how emotionally unhealthy I was, prone to resentment, racked by insecurity and an overly strong need for outside affirmation. During these years I experienced total burnout and an emotional crushing. I began to learn all I could about emotional health and how to achieve it.
Growing Healthier Years 50-60: During these years, being open and asking God to reveal and remove all that gets in the way of Him doing what needs done, it has been a struggle but time of serious healing. During this time, I’ve also had some physical things, reoccurring injuries from running. For the first in my life I had quit regular workouts and gained some weight and felt out of shape. I was shocked to see how much my physical condition affected my spiritual and emotional life. In beginning to walk, realizing I cannot eat three big meals a day any more and taking back control of my physical life, I feel far more centered.
Conclusion: Life is a long journey. It has many twists and turns and it isn’t over till it’s over. Never give up on people because awareness can come at anytime and life’s trajectory can turn to a more positive direction. Having Jesus in your life and being open to His teaching can transform you. Finally, each of us is responsible for our own spiritual, emotional and physical health. Do the best you can with what you’ve been given.