50 years: What now?

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This week marks the beginning of the second half-century of my life. From the time I committed my life to full-time Christian service as a 14-year-old, I’ve wanted my life to count. I want to make a difference. As I look back at the last half-century and forward to the next, this is how I feel:
1. Profoundly grateful
According to a study by Harvard Medical School, children who contracted cancer between 1979 and 1982 are the first to survive childhood cancer. Prior to 1979, kids who got cancer simply died. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease in 1981 and am part of that first group of cancer survivors. I am profoundly grateful that God has allowed me to reach the half-century mark. I am even more grateful that those years have been filled with the blessings of family and friends across the globe and the wonder and privilege of seeing Him work among all sorts of people in all sorts of contexts.
2. Eager to serve
As I look to the future, I am also eager to serve. As the Israelites stood on the cusp of entering the Promised Land, Moses reminded them of the way God led them through 40 years in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:32). As we stand on the edge of a new era in my organization with new leadership and vision, I am both terrified and exhilarated. Although I don’t know how all this will play out specifically over the next few months, I know that God will prove Himself faithful, and I am eager to be a part of His plan, however it looks.
3. A little confused
And finally, I’ll admit that I’m a little confused. Looking back, every decision and experience in my late teens and twenties was uniquely designed by God to move us where He wanted us to be. Through my thirties and forties, we knew, in spite of the challenges of international living and ministry, that we were where God wanted us. When we chose to come back to the U.S. in 2012 and transfer to full-time staff in November 2014, we could sense God’s leading.
But since we’ve been to the “ends of the earth” and experienced God’s presence and power in inexplicable ways, what now?  Every sermon and plea that calls for workers to make Him known tugs at my heart — because I’ve been there. I understand the need. I get the urgency. The harvest IS plentiful, but the workers are few. But instead of “there,” I am “here,” by God’s leading. So questions remain: How do we best exalt Christ in the “normalcy” of day-to-day life in America? How do we make Him known among those who’ve yet to hear in the ordinariness of mortgages and car payments and 40-hour work weeks and after school activities?
I don’t pretend to have this figured out, but I am certain of this: the promise of Philippians 1:6 is just as true for me at age 50 as it was at age 14. He will finish what He has started. I just need to trust Him.
So at 50, this is where I stand (so far, without a cane): trusting Jesus is enough. The rest is just details.
Travel light and wear comfortable shoes!

Ann



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3 thoughts on “50 years: What now?

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