My Fifth Decade

Well today I enter the fortieth year of my age. I’ve been culturally conditioned to feel morose and melancholic. This is firstly because most people do not want to die. They delay their deaths as much as possible because they are afraid of what they do not know. The Christian has no such fear. So although I am probably 4/7ths of the way through my earthly existence, crossing the river offers no dread.

Secondly, our culture idolises youth. Prune-faced women long to lose the wrinkles, and balding, bulging men are seen riding about in red sports cars, attempting to resuscitate a long-dead adolescence. This idolatry even permeates our churches. I am sometimes lectured by one who tells me I ‘need to attract more young people…the young people are the future of the church’. I haven’t the heart to point out that her own, grown-up children no longer attend her own fellowship. I am quite happy attracting anyone at all. Old Testament society, in contrast, valued age and wisdom over youth and energy:

“With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.” (Job 12:12)

As I enter this fifth decade, no longer young, but not quite ancient (the boys I teach might beg to differ), I pray that God might combine my remaining energy with the wisdom acquired thus far. Perhaps this will be the most useful and Christ-like decade of my life. Isaac was forty when he married Rebekah; Moses was 40 when he was stirred to leave the Pharaonic palace; Joshua was 40 when he was sent out to spy on the land; kings David, Solomon and Joash each reigned for that number of years. The most reassuring scripture pertains to the Hebrew nation entering the promised land:

“For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing.”  Deuteronomy 2:7

Of me, too, that can be said.

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