Today I’m 40 years old. The kids have been so into my birthday. For two days Emerald has been saying, “Happy birthday, Mama! You’re 50!” And all I can picture is me walking around in stretchy pants, doing high kicks, declaring that I’m 50 years old. Thankfully, I am not quite there yet, although I did recently discover that I can still do a cartwheel. It’s funny how things that every kid can do become suddenly impressive when you’re 40. I suppose that’s one benefit of getting older.
I’ve been working out my salvation with fear and trembling for about 32 years. God has been so good. He has been patient and kind and encouraging and powerful. He has turned me around and forced me to look up and has put a burning desire within me to speak the truth and to try to live the truth. I have grown so much in these 40 years, but there are some things I still haven’t really learned. And, these are the things that keep me tethered in large and small ways to this world, that make me love myself more than I love Christ. If I could only pray one prayer for my next decade, it would be that I truly learn that these are the things that stunt my sanctification and that grieve the good God who rescued me.
It isn’t about me. Everything within me reaches for glory like a sunflower reaches for the sunlight. I have to constantly fight my need for praise and honor, and it shows, in my parenting, in my marriage, in my blogging, in my ministering. It’s a sickness, this urge to steal the glory that belongs to Christ. Lord, help me to live for your glory alone. Help me to be reminded, even when it’s painful, that this life isn’t about me. It’s about you.
Rule following doesn’t equal holiness. I am a rule-lover from way back. It’s easy for me to rest in my ability to follow the rules, and I have very little patience with those who break rules. I am lacking in compassion when it comes to those who are struggling, even though when I struggle I expect patience and understanding. My love for rules often trumps my love for people, and I tend to have more of a relationship with moral behavior than I do with Jesus. Lord, please help me to remember that rule-following doesn’t please you if my heart is hard and prideful. Open my heart to people and help me to grow in compassion and understanding.
Out of the mouth, the heart speaks. I often feel convicted about what I say. I talk when I should be quiet, and I say things that I should never allow to leave my lips. I say that I have a hard time controlling my tongue, but the truth of the matter is that what comes out of my mouth is only a symptom of what is really inside of me. So, it’s not my mouth I need to tame, it’s me. My sinful and selfish heart. Instead of harsh words or gossip, prayer should be what’s pouring out of me. Prayer and praise and encouragement and love. Jesus, help me to tame my heart so that I can tame my tongue. Give me the desires of your heart instead the selfish wants of mine.
Every milestone in life is a good opportunity for some soul-searching. At 40, these are a few of the ways that I clearly see I need to grow and change. I know I can, with Christ’s help. One thing I have learned through the years is that I never have to give up hope that He can change me and make me more like Him. If I want to be a more fruitful disciple, a more loving wife, a more influential mother, a wiser friend, then these are three areas that I know must change. Maybe by the time I’m 50, I can put on my stretchy pants and do a few high kicks, knowing that Jesus has had another decade to mold me into someone more like Him. He has already proven that He is the most faithful friend. I love Him. But, I want to love Him more. I believe, Jesus. Help me in my unbelief.