Tomorrow I turn 40 and between the congratulations that people have so kindly offered me sandwiched with comments that either I am really getting old or that I am still a young man (I wish my well-wishers would take a vote or something on this), people have missed an essential truth; I never expected to live this long. So as inconvenient as it is that I can't run as fast or jump as high as I once could , two factors accompany that; I never could run that fast or jump that high to start with and statistically, I should be in a pine box somewhere not running or jumping at all.
When I got saved at the age of 21, I had already laid in store the seeds of a destructive life. I was in more trouble than anybody had any idea, including myself. I've never been one to do anything halfway, including sin and my excessive tendencies were going to kill me unless somebody intervened. Somebody did, and I owe every moment since that day to the Lamb of God who rescued me. Not only did he rescue me from the eternal consequences of myself, he has been saving me from myself ever since. I still have very self-destructive qualities and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit accompanied with the word of God have conspired together to return to me the mind I threw away. I owe him not only my continued eternal existence, but every individual day where I have been clothed and in my right mind.
It didn't stop there. He gave me the John 10:10 life with a beautiful wife who has tolerated me for 13 years and counting, 4 kids who are wonderful despite being related to me, a ministry, and friends. Man, have I ever got some friends. You see, to other people, that angry violent, lonely guy I once was is far away in the past but to me he's just on the other side of the mirror. I understand, more than anybody else at least some portion of what it cost Jesus Christ to get me this far. I have some idea, at least a better idea than anyone else exactly how dark and hopeless the sewer was that I was rescued from. It gives you an appreciation for the light.
I mentioned friends. I have this one friend named Doug, and Doug is the quintessential church kid. He's always been the good kid, and got saved when he was 9 or 10, after having been in church since he was a fetus, or thereabouts. It's almost sickening, as I have no idea how he can stand me. He has very little first hand information about how really bad and rotten the world is. I was there the first time he kissed a girl, and it was such a special occasion we all dressed up for it. The girl was wearing this white dress. You should have been there. Anyway, Doug is a remarkably decent human being, and he married this phenomenal young lady that we probably couldn't love any more if we tried. My wife wants our boys to grow up to be just like Doug. I asked her why she didn't want them to grow up to be like me and she said "They're already like you.". I tried not to read too much into that.
Interestingly, Doug is a lot like my wife who is also an easygoing non-confrontational church kid and a decent human being far beyond what she ought to be. Doug's wife is intense, impulsive, confrontational, and a tad obsessive. Do you see where I'm going here? Doug and I , in temperament and life history are opposites. Doug and I both married our opposites, which means we are both a a lot like each other's wives. Try not to let that get too weird, I'm going somewhere with this.
Doug and I, despite the differences were rescued from the very same thing. He was rescued from back alleys and bar fights and fornication and sin just like I was; he was simply rescued a lot earlier than I was before it had a chance to scar him. It's common for old ruffians to be particularity grateful for God's grace in that he allows us to salvage so much of the life we were trying to destroy. But the Bible says "No temptation hath taken you but such as is common to man.." so I have to believe that a person recused 100 feet from the edge of the cliff is just as rescued as a guy dangling from the edge, and ought to be just as grateful. I suppose the case could be made that they ought to be more excited, and more grateful. They get all the benefits of being me now without any of the detraction of being me back then.
Anyway, let me go on record; it's been a good run, and if I never see 41, it's still been a good run, by God's grace.