50 July 8, 2017

I turned 50 recently.
The age where we realize there are more yesterdays than tomorrows.
Half a century.
All the coins in my pocket are younger than I.
The most recent Supreme Court Justice is younger than I am.

At 20, I was months away from being arrested and more than 15 years away from recognizing God working in my life.
By age 36 I published two books.
June 17, 2003, I was baptized.
At age 42 I earned my Master of Divinity degree.
And at age 47 I became a father for the first time.
In 30 years I’ve experienced more shifts in my view of the world than I would have imagined possible.
I once supported capital punishment in the case of cop killers and terrorism — attacks against society. As a Christian I oppose all executions because Jesus was executed. Despite how some people behave, I believe God can help anyone be redeemed, and executions prevent redemption.
Redemption is possible daily for each of us. (Redemption.)
At 20, I was progressive politically and enjoyed the Grateful Dead. At 50, the teaching of Jesus has made me even more progressive and accepting of others. (But I no longer enjoy sweaty, dirty arena concerts and the hours it take to get to and from them. Jerry is gone and so too is my desire to follow the Dead on the road.)
God knows who we are, and loves us unconditionally. When we allow ourselves to feel the unconditional love of God we are able to extend that love to others. I didn’t know this at 20. I try to live it at 50.
At 20, like most 20 year-olds, I thought I had things figured out.
In seminary I worked at a retirement community where I talked with very elderly people who felt they didn’t have anything figured out. Their long lives left them with more questions than answers.
At 50 I accept the fact that I will never figure things out. I try not to waste energy looking for answers that don’t exist.
In the past 30 years I’ve tried to accept myself and others and each day as we are, not as I want them to be.
When I consider the past 30 years and the 30 years to come, I suspect my views will shift even more in ways I haven’t imagined.
As you look back and look ahead, considering the significant events that comprise your life, I wish you equanimity to accept the past and courage to face the future. May you have the strength of Muhammad Ali to stand up for what you believe, to take risks and to try new things.
Release the past to fully embrace the present and view the world differently, from this moment on.
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