When I hit a milestone birthday a few years back, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Reaching 30, 40, and 50 presented no problems. For the first time in my life, I started to look back instead of ahead and upward. Have I reached the pinnacle in my journey? Is it all downhill (or maybe flat) from here?
Don’t get me wrong – I was (and still am) very content in my marriage and family situation. However, pondering my career and financial position created some angst.
Like many career folks, I’ve spent my life working, stretching and pressing ahead on life’s journey. It’s a narrow road that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14) and I have always viewed it as an upward trek, with greater views to come along the way.
I looked and planned for the possibilities ahead, usually with an expectation of greater success and scaling new heights even when plodding through the valleys. It’s been challenging at times but have been able to scramble back on the path after taking detours.
The most recent milestone birthday was different. Email invitations and pamphlets for retirement planning, Medicare, and Social Security issues started to pile up. For the first time, I became aware of the avalanche of radio commercials by retirement and investment advisors. They sought to stoke the flames of fear of the future that’s been a stressor for me.
The Lord has blessed with the opportunity to lead Above & Beyond, and I’ve invested my life, pouring proverbial blood, sweat, and tears into it. The ministry has been bearing fruit, and I know we’ve been a blessing to many, but it was not where I hoped it would be in terms of outreach and financial strength.
I began to wonder if I had maxed out. If this was the top of all that God had for me. I focused on the “woulda”, “shoulda” and “coulda” moments in the past where the journey might have been more comfortable. For someone not used to dwelling in that mindset, it was a sobering and challenging time. I know we’ve all been there on that score, but this time the mind torment was intense.
Staying on the Narrow Road to Life
During this season, after time with the Lord and my amazing wife, I’ve reached the following conclusions:
- God is not done with me. Retirement is not part of my short-term vocabulary. There are seasons and transitions but I want to keep leading the Counseling Center and Academy. We have a talented and compassionate group of counselors, and the Lord continues to bring counseling students and Boot Camp clients. There is work to be done that I want to be part of. It’s not time to pass the baton.
- He is not disappointed in me. I needed to be “refired”, not retired. That’s been a work in process, and He has been faithful to help encourage and strengthen me on this next phase of the journey.
- I must discipline myself to keep looking ahead and not lament upon past mistakes or missed opportunities. Looking out the rear view mirror is essential at times, but one cannot make progress if that is the total focus.
- I must learn to be content in more significant measure, even as Paul said that he had accomplished that.
I hope that this might help you. I’m sure there is more revelation coming for me.
Are you concerned that you have reached your summit in life? This conclusion, while more prevalent as one ages, can also strike younger folks.
Maybe you think even now that you’ve missed it. The train has left the station, and now you have crumbs when you could have had the whole loaf.
I realized that apart from the natural world life stages that we’ve become accustomed to, the demonic realm, the enemies of our soul, are doing their best to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). Their ability to put thoughts in our mind, stir up memories and work through other people to poke at our insecurities comprise a powerful spiritual assault on our destiny.
God will never leave us nor forsake us; He’ll not take His giftings back and will work all things together for good. He’s prepared good works in advance for us to do and we have an opportunity to fulfill that calling. We need to recognize that He’s not done with us even as the devils will try to convince otherwise.
Several scriptures helped sustain me at various times, along the way:
Jeremiah 29:11 promises that He has good plans for me.
As I delight in Him, He will give me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4).
As I can keep my mind steadfast on the Lord and His promises, I can walk in peace through every trial (Isa 2^:3-4)
He will work to bring good out of all my foul ups (Roman 8:28)
I need to work to enter into the Sabbath rest He has for me and continue to work hard but trusting Him for the results (Hebrews 4:10)
Whether you are 20, 80, or somewhere in between, I pray that this article may help if you are mired in despair or hopelessness about where you are. God will give you wisdom if you ask, and you may need counseling/deliverance to help get you back on the road. Get it if you do. You’re not at the summit of life’s mountain.
You may be nearing the finish line in chronological age, or the Lord could be directing you on a new path, but know that we have a ministry call until the end of our appointed time. I want to persevere and keep moving ahead so I can hear the right word from the Lord that I have been faithful to His calling when I stand before Him.
I know you want that too. The Lord’s grace abounds to help you with whatever is your need. God can’t steer a parked car. If you’ve been stuck, ask for wisdom, know that He will give it to you, get back in the saddle and start moving.
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