It’s strange to be 60. It feels “old” in a way that 50 didn’t. Well, maybe not “old” but significant. Sixty feels like a significant milestone. As one of my sons reminded me, I am now closer to the day of my death than to the day of my birth. Of course I have been that for some time now. Just for fun, I did two online tests to estimate at what age I would die. One test said 89, the other 91. I also had a medical check up done earlier in the year and got a clean bill of health. So, unless God has plans He has yet to share with me, I will be around for a little while yet. How then should I live?
Recently I started reading Steven Garber’s book, Visions of Vocation (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2014). I have had the book for a while but started to read it only about a month ago. The more I read the more I feel that this is the book I need to read as I start my 60th year. Garber shares the vision for his book:
In the next pages, you will meet my friends from near and far, men and women who incarnate the reality that we can know and still love the world, even in its wounds — perhaps, especially in its wounds — whether they be in family or friendship, psychological or sociological, in economic life or political life, in the arts or in education, in small towns or on complex continents. As the poet Bob Dylan once sang, “Everything is broken.” Yes, everything, and so we must not be romantics. We cannot afford to be, just as we cannot be stoics or cynics either.
But the story of sorrow is not the whole story of life either. There is also wonder and glory, joy and meaning, in the vocations that are ours. There is good work to be done by every son of Adam and every daughter of Eve all over the face of the earth. (34–35)
Neither romantic nor cynic — now there’s a slogan for someone turning 60. I have been around long enough to see the brokenness of life, both in the world and in my own life. I cannot be some Pollyanna optimist who thinks there are simple and easy solutions to the struggles of life, even with God in the picture.
But I have also seen joy and goodness and beauty in the world. I have also come to terms that, even with all the questions I still have of the Christian faith and of the church, I am convinced that the historical person of Jesus, this “mere man (John 10:33),” is also God entering human history to show us what life is all about and to save us. I have encountered His personal touch in my life numerous times.
At 60, it is clear that you don’t have all the time in the world. I never did but it is now in your face, even if I live to 90 with good health. I know those who have been afflicted with Alzheimer’s dementia long before 90 and I know a few who are still mentally and spiritually sharp in their 90s. But you never know what your own journey will be like. Which is why I must be a good steward of the now, to live intentionally.
I no longer have the energy and the time to do all that I would like. I must be clearer now as to what the Lord would have me do. So at 60 I turn again to the question of vocation. This is the key question in Garber’s book:
Knowing what you know about yourself and the world, what are you going to do? (51)
And Garber challenges all of us by reminding us:
There are flowers to be grown, songs to be sung, bread to be baked, justice to be done, mercy to be shown, beauty to be created, good stories to be told, houses to be built, technologies to be developed, fields to farm, and children to educate.
All day, every day, there are both wounds and wonders at the very heart of life, if we have eyes to see. And seeing […] is where vocations begin. (35)
At 60, I have some idea as to my vocation, and interestingly, a part of that is helping others discover their vocations. So at 60, I thank God for my life, and recommit myself to Him and to what He has called me to do. Lord, help me see clearer what it’s all about and give me the courage and grace to respond appropriately.
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