Life Lessons at 56 ½ [PART 2]
Have you ever had someone ask you, “If you had an opportunity to go back and talk to the younger you, what would you tell yourself?” What an intriguing thought and question. Have you ever pondered that? What would you say to “yourself”. Of course we know this is not a possibility but it does give way to thinking about life’s lessons and the things that we have learned. As I alluded to in part 1 of this blog, the older you get, the more life you have to look back on. And with 56 ½ years behind me, there seems to be many lessons learned and a lot to talk about ☺
I mentioned that a good book I am reading got me to thinking “If I had the opportunity to share what I’ve learned thus far in my short life, what are some things I would share?” This by the way is what I would tell my younger self as well. Last time I mentioned two of those things. I’d:
1. Laugh More Loudly
2. Cry More Freely
The other 4 are,
3. Risk More Often
Take greater steps of faith. As one writer put it “Faith is risk and risk is right!” I totally agree. Don’t sit around and manufacture a life void of risk; A life that is comfortable, predictable and caged in by “security”. I know that seems to be the “American Dream”. But I do not believe that is the dream our Father has for us. Take the hard path of faith. Take the road less traveled. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths”, Proverbs tell us. But beware, the older you get the more you will long for comfort, ease, security and routine. Fight it! Risk
4. Love More Fiercely
This is a costly one. It will require the death of self! It is scary to put yourself out there and say “God, I will love you with everything I’ve got!” Deuteronomy 6:5 . Looking back, I would love God more deeply. Praise him more, talk of him more, brag about him more, think about him more. Read his “words” more, listen to him more, obey him more. Yes, I would love him with abandonment and trust Him!
This of course leads me to not just love Him more fiercely but to love others with that same ferocity! Boy is that costly! Give of yourself to others, without any thought of reciprocity. This too is a risk. You may get hurt. You may be misunderstood but love anyway. Remember, you cannot say that you love God but not the people that God loves.1 John 4:7-12
5. Share More Honestly
OK…Having been in the pastorate for over 33 years now, I have discovered that “Christians” are some of the biggest liars, I have met. Yes, I said it. I have seen God’s people avoid speaking the truth; Hide revealing the truth of who they are and fake living the truth of what they really don’t believe. I too have gotten caught up in the Christian-cultural sin of dancing around the truth. The Bible clearly exhorts us to speak the truth in love.
I would share more openly about my weaknesses and sins. I would tell the truth (in love) but tell it nevertheless. Tell it ALL the way. Not holding back the 10-15% of what really needs to be said. As God’s, children, we need to be honest with our “family members”. Let not the polite southern culture supersede the Biblical culture of transparency, honesty and truth. Don’t let fear and shame keep you from revealing TRUTH.
6. Take Sin More Seriously
I think this life lesson is the one that concerns me the most. Because of an over emphasis on keeping the law and earning God’s favor and tons of preaching on “doing”, the church rightly, began to preach grace, God’s love and His acceptance of His children. But as things normally go, the pendulum has swung too far to the other side. It has become all grace, cheap grace. A lopsided view of God and sin. God’s people have begun to excuse their sin. Abusing God’s grace and forgiveness. We over look passages like Galatians 6:7,8, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption…”
Here recently, I was reading an article exposing/accusing, a well-known pastor of a huge multi-campus ministry of sexual abuse of several female employees. I did not want believe the allegations, because of the respect I have for him. I have read his books and known of all the wonderful things he has done for the cause of Christ. How could this be? So, I called a trusted friend who knew of the situation and he confirmed my fears…these allegations were unfortunately true.
My heart sank! This scenario has become all too common, even among preachers. What’s going on? Why is this happening? I am sure there are many reasons but I can tell you one reason is that we do not take sin seriously. We coddle, excuse, overlook and give into sin! We think that we are “getting away” with it. We don’t realize it but sin is devastating. It kills, blinds and separates us from God and each other.
It is not always apparent but sin garnishes a heavy payment. The fruit is not always seen but the roots are growing underneath the dirt. Samson’s youthful sin came back to kill him 20+ years later, Judges 14,15,16...King David’s lustful sin came back to haunt him later as well…Moses’ temper and pride(Exodus 2:11-12) later kept him out of the Promised land, (Numbers 20:10-12).
I don’t mean to be a downer but we must see the seriousness of our own sin. Looking back, I would not play around, ignore or justify sinful behavior…it will bear fruit…later.
We cannot go back and talk to our younger selves but we do have TODAY! Let us not look back in regret but look forward with resolve, courage and faith! King Solomon says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in the grave, to which you are going.” He also tempered that by saying… “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
Dear Older me…
Laugh More Loudly, Cry More Freely, Risk More Often, Love More Fiercely, Share More Honestly and Take Sin More Seriously