Yesterday morning, several young women were in our assembly who had grown up at Crestview. They had long since "grown up", gone away to college, and moved to other places. Now they were back. One of them was telling me that she had come in for a surprise birthday party for her good friend who had grown up in this church as well. This good friend is married, has a couple of children, and is now one of our young families. I typically see this family every Sunday.
As I was about to leave this conversation, what she said began to register. These people were here for this woman's 30th birthday. 30th? Oh my! I remember when she was in high school (Can she be 30?)
I don't think about age very much, either my own or anyone else's. Occasionally, I do. I sense some people spend much of their energy trying to give the impression that they are not the age they are. (How can I look younger?) I suppose that a person can just get consumed by this. (Such as the young woman who I saw interviewed on television recently who had over 20 different plastic surgeries--each one an attempt to enhance or improve some feature.) Yet, looking younger does not mean a person is really living.
Some people try to give the impression that they are youthful. Yet, the appearance of youth alone does not mean a person is really living. Some people really are youthful in their spirit and alive in their approach to life. They are growing and living vibrant lives.
John Gardner was once the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. He wrote a book entitled Self-Renewal which dealt with the decay and renewal of societies, organizations, and individuals. On June 16, 1991, Gardner delivered the commencement address at Stanford University. In that address, he said,
I explored the question of why civilizations die and how they sometime renew themselves, and the puzzle of why some men and women go to seed while others remain vital all of their lives....I'm talking about people who have stopped learning or growing or trying....I do worry about men and women functioning far below the level of their possibilities....As you settle into your adult lives, you cannot write off the danger of complacency, boredom, and growing rigidity, imprisoned by your own comfortable habits and opinions. A famous French writer once said, "There are people whose clocks stop at a certain point in their lives."
Unfortunately, some of us have clocks that stopped a long time ago. Perhaps at 35, 45, or 55, a dullness sets in. They may refer to themselves as old or they get obsessed with the changes in their appearance. Yet, the answer is not holding on to youth. The answer is not having an affair or trading in a spouse for a much younger person. The problem is much deeper. Just because I may look much younger doesn't mean I am really living. Just because I trade in my spouse on a new, younger model, doesn't mean that I am really experiencing life as it was meant to be experienced.
- Real living is not about age, appearance, etc.
- Real living is about what is happening inside me.
- Real living is about maintaining my curiosity about God's creation and life in general.
- Real living is about staying out of ruts and staying in the middle of life.
- Real living is about trying something new and different.
- Real living is about learning something new every day.
- Real living is about actively loving someone else instead of passively watching live go by.
- Real living cannot be stopped by a calendar or clock.
Most importantly, real living is about sharing with Jesus the very life of God (Col. 2:9-10). The life of God (Jesus himself, present through his Spirit) does not age or diminish with time. In fact, if anything, my inward self is becoming renewed--fresh and alive (2 Cor. 5:17)! How freeing and energizing.