Turning 49

Where am I? 
Sad.  Fear.  Lonely.  Glad.

Random thoughts from my birthday.

Twenty years ago I was the young guy with lots of potential.  Now I’m the old guy who had all that potential. 

When I was in my twenties (even in my thirties) I had this unspoken confidence that no matter what detour my life took, I could make a course correction.   A poor choice.  A wrong turn.  A wasted day.  A wasted year.  Even a wasted decade.  Time was still on my side.

It’s hard to think this way now.  I’m one year away from 50.  When I was 25, a 50 year old was a guy whose life was almost over!  In 16 years I’ll be 65.  In 21 years I’ll be 70.  Time is not on my side anymore.  At this age, if I get off on an exit, I may not find my way back to the highway again. 

So I’ve been thinking about the handful of men who were older than I am right now when their lives shaped and inspired mine.  Their influence happened in private . . . in the back alleys of my life and theirs.  Unheralded.  Quiet.  

I don’t write their names here because that’s not how God used them (and still uses them) in my life.  No banners.  No lights.  No applause.  No credit.  Their names written nowhere but upon my life.  

My memory of their influence (and the nature and manner in which it happened) gives me hope.  To the extent that I am feeling some fear about growing older, I'm finding myself grabbing hold of their example.

A couple months ago I had the thought:  “I really don’t care if people think I sell drugs or donuts for a living. . . if I could spend the rest of my life doing what I’m doing now (and no one even have know what I’m doing) I could drop into a grave twenty years from now and be satisfied with what I did with the sum of my years.”  

The emphasis in my mind was upon, “no one have to know what I’m doing.”  If I wasn’t called to involve others in the work I do and if I didn’t need to raise the funds to serve in the places I serve, I’d stay in the shadows and you’d likely not hear my name again.

I'm wondering today if that’s one of the differences between being 25 and almost 50? 

Finally: I was surprised (even feel some shame) at how glad I felt reading the birthday greetings on my Facebook Wall this week.  Incredible to me the power of a ten second gesture that says, “I remember you and am glad you were born.”

I called my mom on my birthday before she could call me. I said, “My Happy Birthday to you.  This day was a bigger day for you than it was for me!”  As a father of six, I know this for a fact.


  1. Jeff,

    As long as you continue to lift your heart up to God, he will continue to guide and direct your steps. You can be certain that your life will be satisfying and filled with Eternal purpose. No regrets. I just finished "reading" a book called "Italian Shoes" by a Swedish author, Henning Mankell. Very well written, but it described beautifully the life of a man in his mid-sixtys that for over a decade had stopped really living. He lived alone on an island and had to cut a hole in the ice and bath in the frigid water to remind himself that he was alive. He just could not get past moral and professional failures in his life... He could'nt "own his messes" and could not seek forgiveness nor forgive himself... Various women in his past whom he had deeply hurt bring about his restoration so the book ends on an optimistic note.
    I like listening to your thoughts thanks for the blog. Steve

  2. Great article, I really needed to read that, my 49th birthday is in 2 days. You wouldn't happen to be from Yuba City CA would you?

  3. Great post. Of course, I linked here on a google search because I recently turned 49.
    I read something by Camus a long time back, it went something like 'At a certain age, we realize that on the trajectory of our lives there is more time behind us than in front of us'.
    Since living in Korea, I do as many Koreans do on their birthday: I call my mom and thank her for making my life possible.
    Great blog.