By George A. Bowers Sr.
It's hard to keep your age a secret when you receive a walker in front of your congregation to "honor" your 50th birthday (thanks Dale and Norm!). Nevertheless, it is a reminder that none of us are getting any younger and that we're all heading up, over, or down the hill. While I have no plans of leaving here anytime soon, one of my grandfathers died unexpectedly at my age, which injects a dose of reality into this otherwise lighthearted milestone.
It was also a little sobering to hold funerals just prior to my birthday for two wonderful public servants who died too young. Both of these individuals had incredible accomplishments and made wonderful contributions to our society that have and will benefit us all. At the same time, each left behind some unfinished business as well. Projects and plans that were in the works but that never got completed. Good ideas that never made it off the drawing board, or even out of the brain. We all have some of these around our homes, in our workshops, at our jobs, or in our minds.
Turning 50 reminds me that I'm not going to have time to do all the things I want to do and that I must choose how to spend my remaining days on this earth wisely. Since some business will inevitably be left unfinished, what is most vital for me to complete? As I've thought about that question, let me offer some criteria that may be helpful to others who are considering the same issues.
Since the greatest commandments are to love God and others, it seems these offer guidance to us for such decisions. First of all, let's not let any worship of God go unoffered. When our bodies are in their graves, our earthly tongues cannot sing, our lips cannot pray, and our hearts cannot praise the Eternal God. Although Christians will do so throughout eternity in new bodies, why not wear out the ones we've got now by glorifying him?
Secondly, we must address our relationships with others by leaving no apologies unmade. Let us not be like the coward who left a list of hollow confessions to be read after his death. On the other side of life's hurts, let us be sure to leave no offense unforgiven. No matter how great the pain, nor how intentionally it was inflicted, let us, with God's help, give the same forgiveness to others that God has freely given us. In a similar regard, let us leave no love unshared. Wherever, whenever, whomever, and however we can show love, let us do so. And let us do all the generous giving we can now since we won't be able to do any of that when our bodies are six feet under.
Finally, and most importantly, we must be sure that we have invited our Creator God to forgive us through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus. As we look over our agendas of unfinished business, let us move this to the top of our lists. For if we accomplish everything else we attempt, but fail to complete this piece, all our love, generosity and apologies won't matter. Jesus is the only Way God provided for us to enjoy His presence forever and this item can easily be accomplished anytime and anywhere. If you haven't already done so, do it today, that you might know the blessing of God's presence both now and forever. From the downhill slope, George.
George Bowers is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, "Wit and Wisdom of the Woods." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.