Do you know where is Beaufort, South Carolina? No? Go Google it. I am in Beaufort right now and, since yesterday was my birthday, it was also the place where I celebrated my 69th birthday. It was a very special birthday. I was with my beloved Bernice and with Roger and Janice Capps, two mentors whom I first met in 1972, and who had played key roles in helping me understand my calling. Bernice and I were in Jamaica for a dear goddaughter’s wedding and Bernice thought that since we were in this part of the world, why not swing by South Carolina and see the Capps. The years have passed, and we do not know if we will have the opportunity to see them again.
When our friends Andrew and Ruth Ng heard that we would be in this part of the world, they flew over from Maryland to join my birthday celebrations. I have known Andrew since 1963 and we have been through many high jinks together in school. We also tried to help each other remain true to Jesus at a formative stage of life. We lost touch for a while but reconnected some years ago when he came by Singapore for work. We have been in touch ever since. I was deeply touched that Andrew and his dear wife Ruth who has also become a dear friend, took the time and trouble to come to Beaufort to help me turn 69.
The older you get the more aware you are of your faults and shortcomings. Looking back at my life at 69 I see a life of pain and joy. Things could have been much worse. But here I am at 69, in a good place, and I know why. I have been the recipient of God’s grace, a lot of that coming to me through the people He has sent my way. Here are a few.
First, He sent me Bernice, my darling wife. When I tell my friends that I married up, few disagree. Her patient, careful, comprehensive love is much, much more than I deserve. Her entry into my life led to substantial healing, joy, and hope.
Next, there are the mentors that He sent my way. There are a number — Roger and Janice are two of them. Mentors do not take over the work of God. It is God who directs our lives. But mentors help guide one to hear what God is saying. They also help model for you how to live your lives in Christ.
Then there are friends like Andrew and Ruth. They journey with you. There is an element of mutuality and fun in friendship where we feel at home with each other and help each other on our journeys.
Here then is the secret to human thriving, spouses to complement you, mentors to guide you, and friends who journey with you.
What about those of us who are single? There were chapters of my life when I journeyed alone. It is a truth that not all of us will be married and, even if married, we may lose our spouses for one reason or another. If that is your lot, I pray that you will have a special intimate friend; a David-Jonathan level of friendship. In my times of singleness, I had a few friends who chose to love me and nurture me.
I am 69? Sometimes a bit difficult to believe. What do I feel at this age? Gratitude, profound gratitude.