It happened around the time I was 37.2 years old. How do I know that? …because I was on a weekend retreat called The Walk to Emmaus and someone made a comment that the median life expectancy for an American male was 74.4 years. I did the math instead of listening to the speaker. Give or take a few days, my life was exactly half over! Sure that was only statistically, but it was a real wake up call for me. I barely heard anything else the remainder of the evening. I kept repeating in my head, “My life is half over. I only have half of my life left!”
It’s a humbling thought to consider how temporary and fleeting this life is. In James 4:13-15, the Bible speaks of our lifetimes as “a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” Even Sting the pop star has a beautiful song with the repeating chorus “how fragile we are.” I’m not sure where I heard it, but I say this phrase a lot, “Life is terminal.”
So am I a fatalist? Am I a Debbie downer? No. I’m really a guy who’s very hopeful and optimistic. Those of you who know me well… help me out here! Here’s what I’m trying to say. If your life is half over, what are you going to do with the rest of it? Pastor Chip Ingram tells of a retired church member who long outlived the 74.4 year average. This elderly gentleman showed his wisdom when he told his pastor, “If I would have known I was going to live this long, I wouldn’t have spent so much time working on my golf game.”
Valerie and I both celebrated birthdays this month, our first since heading out to serve in international missions. It’s not been easy, but every day of our remaining “37.2 years” is a gift from God that we wanted to give back to Him. Yes. We’re another year older. Yes. My half-way marker was awhile ago. But I love the Apostle Paul’s words paraphrased by Eugene Peterson, “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.”
2 Corinthians 4:16 [The Message]
No matter how young or old you are, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. Not a day. I hope that you will experience that in your life and make the most of every day you are given!
Photo note: This picture was taken at the halfway point across the Rhine River in Basel, Switzerland on the Mittlere Rheinbrücke or middle Rhein bridge.