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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

On the Back Side of 40

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

CBN.com - I woke up recently thinking I was a lot closer to 50 than I was to 40, or even 35 for that matter. I arrived at this conclusion not due to the natural chronological progression of time, or the fact my knees creak with increasing regularity. It is not the Bela Lugosi-esque dark circles forming beneath my eyes. I can’t even point to the whitening of my teeth … alright, alright, the whitening of my hair.

I know I am getting closer to 50 because of real estate. Real estate? Buyers market, sellers market, points or no points, refinancing, real estate is a sizzling hot topic for us forty soon to be fifty-somethings. I cannot seem to get through a day without discussing home inspections, appraisal values, or return on investment with someone. Perhaps it is just a sign of the times but whenever I am at a place where homeowners congregate (work, dinner parties, and church are popular locales) the conversation inevitably turns toward “the market”.

And whenever it does I feel like a genius. For you see, even though I had virtually nothing to do with it other than signing my name on the dotted line, I live in a neighborhood that has skyrocketed in value over the last five years.

As I exuberantly explain what I paid for my humble abode and what it is worth today, I often come to the mental realization that all I did was live in it and mow the lawn about once a week in the summer time. This is not exactly the work of a genius.

I also know I am getting closer to 50 because I have become prone to conveniently forgetting how old I am when someone asks. When asked how old I was the other day I triumphantly announced I was a year younger than I really was. The sad thing is I did it on purpose. When my wife corrected me, I playfully explained that because I was in the first six months of my current age I still considered myself the age I was last year.

I know I am getting closer to 50 because I recently offered to pay a 12-year-old stranger to haul my family’s beach gear the remaining 300 yards from an oceanfront parking lot to the water’s edge. Five years ago I would have made that trip five times without complaint. Not anymore. The reason I know I am careening ever so close to the big 5-0 is because the kid refused my one dollar offer. Can you believe it, he actually wanted five! The humanity!

Another reason I know I am getting closer to 50 are the depressing tales of woe from my fifty-something brother and brother-in-law. My brother told me recently that if he doesn’t make some important career decisions soon than he will be considered a dinosaur in his profession within five years. Ouch. My brother-in-law fulfilled a life long dream when he recently purchased a 15 year old motorcycle. When I asked him why he suddenly went out and bought something he had absolutely no experience with, he replied coldly, “It’s now or never.”

It’s now or never. It’s now or never. It’s now or never. Those four words kept replaying over and over again in my mind. What great advice. Based on what my brother in law said, I decided that I should start negotiating for my "now or never" moment immediately. That way I could ease my wife into the idea of purchasing the $80,000 BMW Z4 Roadster convertible I have had my eye on forever.

Let’s just say she was less than thrilled with my initial proposal.

“How do you plan on paying for it?” she asked.

I quickly responded, “Well, I figured we would just withdraw the money from our savings account when the time comes.”

“That is a wonderful idea considering we don’t have anywhere near that amount in our savings,” she replied sharply.

“Maybe we could tap into some mutual funds or sell some stock.”

“I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t you start saving about $10 dollars per week in your own account? By the time retirement rolls around you should have enough.”

For a rusting 1978 Mazda GLC hatchback with orange plaid interior perhaps. A quick mental calculation told me that I would be about $78,000 dollars short of purchasing the car that James Bond made famous. Oh well, we can dream can’t we?

As the swirling vortex of the half-century mark begins to threaten, I try to tell myself that with age comes wisdom and valuable life experiences to draw from. That may be true but the thought of being 23; living with three roommates near the beach, and driving a car with 150,000 miles on it is enticing too. I’m only kidding.

Without question, mid-life is a time for reflection and self-evaluation. It is an opportunity to examine where you have been in life, where you are currently, and where it is you want to head in the future. As you go through this process, it is sometimes difficult to envision the future based the decisions you have made in the past. When this happens, you sometimes feel trapped or even cornered into a remaining lifetime you are not so sure you want to be part of. The end result is the unbridled desire for change. You want to experience everything you feel you have missed during the first half of your life. Sometimes these feelings can lead to change of career, the desire to live life at the edges, or worse, the reckless decision to leave spouse and family behind.

When these types of feelings arise it is critically important to look above for direction through this turbulent web of emotions. Through it all, we must commit our inner selves, our intellect and will to God.

In Proverbs 3:5-6, it says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”

As it is written, God promises to guide us and to give us clear direction in our lives. Even when everything seems to be clouded, He promises to assist us as we work through our decisions and actions.

Unfortunately, we sometimes arrive at decisions in life based on what we want to have happen. In our quest for quick gratification we may overlook God’s perfect and very special timing in our lives. We may choose our way regardless of where that particular path might lead. The decisions we make that lead to flashy cars or daring adventures may not be necessarily wrong, but the ones that create a negative or even detrimental impact on the ones we love are.

It is important to remember that if we make these wrong choices, we can return to God at any moment and choose to follow His ways. But we must repent of our sinful decisions first and put our full trust in Him.

Portions contained within this article from the Transformer Study Bible.

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