The other day, I was Christmas shopping at my favorite store – TJMax. I found lots of great stuff on clearance … I find great satisfaction in finding dead-cheap deals! As I was checking out, the young woman who was ringing up my purchases looked at me quizzically and asked, “how old are you?” Now it’s been quite a while since I was carded, so I was taken aback. I hesitantly offered, “49?” She busied herself with the cash register as she replied, “I didn’t think you were that old.”
It was then that I remembered the public address announcement while I was shopping – “If you are shopping with us today and you are at least 55 years young, you will enjoy a 20% discount off your entire purchase!”
I looked at the cute, young thing behind the counter and asked if I could retract my answer. She laughed at me like I was a silly, addle-brained, old woman.
Perhaps there are benefits of growing older after all. Pretty soon, I will qualify for senior coffee at McDonalds and senior dinners at Cracker Barrel. AARP has already been emailing me in anticipation of sign-on day.
Really, though. My flesh rather bristled at the insinuation that I am getting old. Then I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the storefront glass and was brought back to the brutal reality. I am.
Statistically speaking, I’ve already lived more than half of my days here on Planet Earth. If Jesus tarries, and if I suffer no serious medical maladies or accidents, I might live another 30 or 40 years. I have become much more aware of my mortality in the past few months.
And I have also become more introspective of late, assessing where I am versus where I believe I should be. I’ve looked at those mountains that I’ve marched around and around and around… till there’s a moat encircling the base. (The contemporary phrase – “the definition of insanity is doing things the same way over and over, but expecting different results” – ought to be in the Bible somewhere, shouldn’t it?) Where have I been obstinate and where have I been obedient? Am I still pressing on the uphill journey? Or have I slid backwards? How much precious time have I wasted and twittered away? What lasting good have I accomplished through the strength of the Lord?
When my tombstone is engraved, what will be the significance of the dash between my birth and death dates?
Looking over the past 49 years, I see that I’ve spent more time running away from my God and my purpose than in pursuit thereof. And I’ve been tempted to fall into the trap of self-pity and self-loathing because of my willful sin - the same sin that He has already forgotten and buried in the depths of the sea. The more I get to know my Father, the more I come to thankfully realize that He is using every dumb thing I ever did or said, every wrong path I ever walked, every bad choice I ever made … to His glory.
At this Blessed Christmas season, I reflect on the birth of Almighty God into a frail, human body of flesh. Flesh that grew older with every day that He spent on earth. Jesus spent every day of His human life walking resolutely toward The Purpose for which He came. He suffered all the persecution, the beatings, the agony of death - and the heaping of all of the sins of mankind on His shoulders. And to think that He did all of this. Just for you and me. Oh, how I love how He loves me! Oh, I want to see Him, look upon His Face.....