As of yesterday, I am thirty-three years old.
Does that mean I'm in my mid-thirties? Am I officially ancient? Does it seem strange to you that I have known John for fifteen years?
It never ceases to amaze me how the time flies by. Wasn't it yesterday that John and I were walking the halls of Northwestern College, singing in the choir and going for canoe rides on the lake? Weren't we just getting engaged and married and setting up house and scraping by as I finished school? I thought we just left Minnesota a few months ago! Three years in Kentucky made a HUGE impact on our life but went by like a blip on the screen. Moving overseas seemingly just happened a year ago! Wait, didn't we just have a brand-new baby girl? My oldest baby is already four and a half! And what happened to Chloe? It seems like just a week ago that we were wondering if she would ever talk, and now she says things like, "Mama, look at this mess. Clara Anne do'd it. I need something to wipe my hands on. " And Christin, well, it seems like I was just recently nursing a newborn, not watching a toddler walk all around the house.
C. S. Lewis, in talking to a seeker, made this observation which I think sums up the issue for me:
"Notice how we are perpetually surprised at Time. (How time flies! Fancy John being grown-up and married! I can hardly believe it!) In heaven's name, why? Unless, indeed, there is something in us which is not temporal." (quoted in an excellent book, A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken).
The truth is that we were not made for this temporary world. Time passes, and we mark it, but in fact we were made for eternity, and so we will never feel fully comfortable in time. It seems to move slowly when we are waiting for a big event, and quickly when we are enjoying ourselves. I'm sure I'm not the only one that has noticed that the weekend, or the special party, or that precious time with family, tends to fly by!
Anyway, another birthday holds no fear for me, thanks to the power of the Cross. I don't need to be afraid of growing old, for with age can come wisdom and maturity, according to the Word. I understand how people want to be thought of as "young" or "in the prime of life", but I think it's a little silly to always pretend to be perpetually 29, or some such thing. It's funny, too, how our perspective changes; isn't it true that those who are just slightly older than us are still seen as "so young!"? Whether you're 33, 44 or 66, those in your peer group seem ever-young.
As I was celebrating with our family and friends yesterday, I will admit that it crossed my mind several times how my brother Dan died on his 33rd birthday. In the Lord's eyes, Dan's race was complete, finished. Of course I am thankful for the years the Lord has given me, but there is also just a tiny bit of envy in my heart that I still have more race to run! May the Lord continue to sustain and use me and my life for His glory!
Here's a prayer penned by Betty Scott Stam, missionary to China, (she was later martyred there):
"Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all, utterly to thee to be thine forever. Fill me and seal me with thy Holy Spirit, use me as thou wilt, send me where thou wilt, work out thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever."
That's a great prayer to pray on your birthday, or any day! It is my prayer for this coming year. Thank you, Lord, for 33 years of life!