First, let me cut to the chase. Turning 43 feels just like being 42. That should be good news for those of you dreading another year on the lifespan. Second, this is the first time I can remember when I have had absolutely no regrets about a birthday. Sure, I took time to be a little introspective but I must have decided in advance I was looking for reasons to rejoice. Whether by intent or by accident I somehow managed to only think about the great blessings I have experienced at the hand of my loving Father.
At some point I decided to divide my life up like a football game. A friend reminded me of this on his blog as he talked about reorienting his gameplan to adjust for changes. For me I am looking at four quarters and overtime if necessary. When I first thought of this I started to base it off of a lifespan of 80 years, twenty years per quarter. Now I have decided to make the lifespan 100 years and thereby give each quarter 25 years. I did this because I figure eighty is attainable for me and 100 is probably out of my reach so the optimistic path is to shoot for the 100 mark. Please do not take time to stop and analyse this line of thinking. It's my birthday; please allow me my delusions. Besides modern meds may keep me going and going and going.
My first quarter was pretty easy. Get born, have fun, grow up. Cool deal. There may have been some traumatic experiences along the way but I choose to look at the wonderful things of life instead. I think I was able to do that since I came equipped with the best Mother on the face of the earth! I managed to finish University and then a three year Masters degree in theology. Better than that I got married to Robin (Woman 2.0!) and then was blessed with child number one, Jonathan, otherwise know as the "test child". The first quarter ended pretty well as I started my first full time Pastorate after Seminary. This was actually my second Pastorate as I had served the Lord in a small church during my last year of college at East Texas Baptist.
The second quarter started rough. A little over two years of what I was not expecting to be a cross cultural experience. Don't get me wrong. There were some wonderful people there but it was like nothing I had ever seen or experienced. There had been severe division and only a short interim between the previous Pastor and my arrival. Still, the church grew. Perhaps it got better because I did over thirty funerals in a little over two years.
The second quarter really began to pick up when we went to Pastor Emmanuel Baptist Church in Henderson, TX. For me it was the best thing that could possibly happenned in ministry. The Lord blessed that time greatly. However after three years all was turned to dust as I self destructed, revealing both wounds and weaknesses I had harbored and hidden for years. In addition to my fall I lost my natural Father immediately preceding this time. Honestly, I was ticked off because he died before I could tell him how utterly disgusted I was with him for ruining his life and beating my Mother and I down. I pause here to thank God for my Step-Father who is my real Dad. Dad, if you are reading this you did a great job!
It is miraculous to me that you can get your tail kicked so fiercly at the beginning of the second quarter and come back so strong halfway through. I am not saying I am strong though I hope that I am. I am talking about the way God works things for His glory to pick us up and "set our feet on solid ground". I have worked for Bank of America almost thirteen years. I have Pastored Dacus Baptist Church for eight. I have been incredibly blessed with a wife who stayed with when she did not have to and has grown to be a Godly teacher and influencer of women all over. As soon as her book is published I will be glad to be known as "Robin's husband". Additionally I managed to squirrel my way into having the three greatest kids in the world. Jonathan is called to lead and is musically gifted. Christa may start getting calls any day from comedians Chonda Pierce or Mark Lowery (sp?) as they look for new material. Then the caboose is Charissa, my Lil' Hunting Buddy and dangerous sidekick.
What does the future hold? I have no idea. Robin and I sense God's leading in a certain direction. God has put a burden on our hearts. An old dream has been dusted off and is being refitted for the 21st Century. Will it come to pass? Only the Father knows. The whole thing could end in a moments notice; not everyone gets to play all four quarters. Until that happens my desire is a passion for Jesus and a desire to keep running, passing, tackling and blocking until He pulls me from the game. This one thing I know; I have complete confidence in His game plan.