I turned 50 on Saturday. Quite a milestone. A few of my reflections:
The speed of life: There’s no way that was fifty years.
The stewardship of life: I have to give an account for every second of 50 years. Sobering.
The uncertainty of life: I’ve been in two serious car accidents and had two life-threatening episodes of multiple blood clots in my lungs. And then there are the multiple times God has preserved my life that I’m not even aware of – especially before I was converted. We know not what a day or an hour will bring forth.
The weakness of life: Although I work out four or five times a week at the gym, I’m increasingly aware that my body will never be what it once was. No matter how many sets and reps I do, I can’t hold back the slow inexorable tide of aging. I’m even getting close to giving up on my dream of playing professional soccer!
The happiness of life: God in his mercy has given me a wonderfully happy marriage and family life. When I think of what could have been had God not intervened in sovereign mercy in my early twenties…. That’s not to say my family life is perfect; far from it. There’s nothing so humbling and challenging as parenting – especially five very different children ranging from two to twenty years old. So much wisdom and patience needed – not virtues I abound in. I now love and appreciate my own parents more than ever before, and miss them terribly.
The Gospel of life: Not only has God given me faith in Christ but also the privilege of preaching Christ and even training others to do the same.
To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8).
I never thought I’d ever be blessed with another congregation like my precious flock in Stornoway. But God in his unfathomable kindness has given me, if possible, even greater joy in my congregation here in Grand Rapids. I so love my church family.
The unpredictability of life: I could never have planned or predicted my life. I think back to my years growing up in the city of Glasgow, my spiritual rebellion, my godlessness, and worldliness. But God. I think back to when I was pastoring in my first congregation in Lochcarron, a time of the most incredibly painful experience of church struggles, divisions, and injustice. But God. I remember walking along the beaches of the Scottish Highlands in all weathers with my two little boys. Last night, on the evening of Memorial Day, I took one to the airport to start his US Marine infantry training in California, and another is installing heating and cooling systems; now my go-to guy for anything that involves more than a hammer and a nail. But God.
The need for life: I have family members, including my beloved twin brother (a far nicer and better guy than me), who are still without Christ and without hope in the world. As each birthday passes, eternity hastens towards them and the poignant words haunt me and drive me to prayer: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!” (Jer. 8:20).
The protection of life: My birthday present was two guns! A Remmington .22 and a Ruger LC9. At this point my Canadian and British friends are now convinced that I’ve left the faith. “Have you stopped trusting God, Murray?” Well, the Remington is also for helping my daughters learn how to shoot as they’re both super-keen on getting into hunting. The Ruger? I give you the words of Oliver Cromwell: “Trust in God – and keep your powder dry.”
The talent of life: I don’t know how many talents of life I have left. Might be less than 50 days. Could be another 50 years – but I’m not counting on it. When the finishing line is coming closer and closer, I want to make sure that every precious day is multiplied for Gospel usefulness. “Only one life, will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.