The other day, I pulled into my garage and glanced down at my odometer.
The equivalent of 21 drives across the US. That mileage accumulated from lots and lots of mundane, errand-laden trips and some very special journeys.
Since I recently passed 60 on the “odometer” of my life, I’ve been reflecting about my miles and milestones and the lessons I’ve learned. In these days of so much uncertainty, I’ve wondered: “What do I know that I know that I know?”
After some time of ruminating, these nuggets of gold emerged:
Jesus. He’s real. He’s alive. He is Love. He defines my worth, not my accomplishments or mistakes. He’s not condemning. He wants the best for me. He’s always available. He’s the best decision I ever made. He’s the great recycler, having turned the trash of my life into something beautiful.
“You’re never too old to dream a new dream.” C. S. Lewis initially penned those words, and I couldn’t agree more. Many people tell me that they don’t have any dreams for their future. How tragic. My encouragement is to ask God for HIS dreams for your life. Be open. Keep listening. If you’re still breathing, there is purpose to your life. Your job is to uncover it.
Growth happens outside our comfort zone. Always. When life is smooth, it’s easy to get complacent and stop growing. And when turbulence strikes, it’s natural to recoil in fear and shrink further within ourselves. But by taking risks, by stepping out, by not allowing ourselves to be controlled by fear….that is where we grow. While growing is often not easy or fun, it’s what we are meant to do.
Life is short. Seasons pass quickly. So do people. Savor the gift of each day and the blessings (and annoyances) of the people in your life. I can’t believe how quickly I’ve gone from 0-60. Mach speed. That’s why I want to find joy in the journey and cherish each new day and those God has given me to love.
Remember God’s faithfulness in your life by writing it down. Otherwise, you’ll forget. And unlike in the financial world where “past performance is not a predictor of future results,” with God, it is. Remembering His faithfulness helps you face the future with courage.
Cherish your aging parents. They’ll be gone before you know it. Yes, it can be frustrating when parents become hard of hearing, physically infirm, or their mental acumen diminishes. But once they are gone, most of us would give anything for one more hug or one more “I love you.”
Pray big. The Creator of the Universe is capable of answering big prayers. Yes, you risk disappointment if the answer is “no,” or “not yet.” But to quote Mark Batterson, “God won’t answer 100% of the prayers we don’t pray.” Pray big. You’ll be amazed.
Encourage others. Pour out. Live generously. A smile, a word of encouragement could touch someone’s life in ways you can’t imagine. This life can be so hard and the people around us are desperate for kindness. Our words can encourage someone to recognize and develop their God-given potential. Be a noticer. Speak words of life and swallow the critical ones.
Don’t judge unless you’ve walked in someone’s moccasins. And remember that we’re all sinners, saved by Grace. You don’t know a person’s history or the pain they’ve endured. So many factors contribute to behavior. And judging others isn’t our job, anyway, it’s God’s.
Spend as much time listening to God as you do asking. That means shutting off the noise and the electronics and cultivating stillness daily so that you can hear God speak. Once you have clarity, be sure to respond to what He tells you. We want our children to be obedient. God wants that from His children, too.
Authenticity is rare and beautiful. It’s what I have come to cherish. Our transparency about our own struggles and failures can help others in their journey. And giving a few trusted, authentic friends the invitation to speak truth into our lives is essential for emotional and spiritual health.
Suffering is universal. In my younger days, I would look around and enviously see some with “charmed” lives. Over time, I’ve realized that hard things and times of suffering come into everyone’s life. It’s just a matter of time. That’s why building a strong relationship with God is so important. When the hard winds of life eventually blow, you’ll be rooted in Him.
Guard your heart. Trust but verify. Beware of flattery.
Keep a mindset of stewardship. Your children aren’t really yours. Your money and your stuff isn’t really yours. Even your time and your life isn’t really yours. It all belongs to God, and has been entrusted to you by Him. Hold loosely to all of it and realize the privilege of each role and responsibility. One day, we’ll each give an account to God about our stewardship. Let’s build a good report.
Laugh. There’s a nugget of humor in almost every situation, and not at others’ expense. Don’t forget to laugh at yourself. Laughter is good for the soul.
Be forgiving. Keep short accounts. Remember that “bitterness destroys the vessel that contains it” and makes a person dry and brittle. Don’t forgive because someone deserves it or asks for it. Forgive out of obedience to God and as a gift to yourself.
Leave nothing unsaid. (Well, sort of. Leave the harsh, critical things unsaid.) Tell people what they mean to you. Especially in writing.
Love big. That includes loving God, loving others, and loving yourself. I’ve found that reading 1 Corinthians 13 regularly and substituting my name everywhere it says “love” is a healthy (and convicting) self-assessment.
What about you? If you were to distill your life experiences down, what would emerge? It’s a challenging, but worthwhile exercise. I hope you’ll try it! I’d love to hear some of your nuggets of truth.
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