On Tuesday, March 22nd, I’ll turn 57. I do not know if 57 ought to “feel” a certain way, but do know it doesn’t feel “old.” In January while reading a story in which a man was described as being 53, I distinctly remember thinking – “Wow, that’s old,” – only then to think, “Shimer—you are older than that!”
That’s the strangest thing about age – the years march forward, but within, we are still young at heart. I remember Willa Hayes, who died at 101, used to say often, “Brian, I don’t feel that old. Inside I don’t feel any different than when I was 20!” And from Willa I learned that age is all about attitude. She was the one who, in her 90s, during an ice storm, had crawled out across her driveway from the house (for fear of falling!) to her barn to do her chores. She never would have just “not done those chores.”
I used to wonder about what she said, but as the years have marched on, I began to get it. Inside God is on a renewal program that just won’t quit, while the body is “dying because of sin,” as Paul wrote.
Saturday I attended a memorial service for this marvelous guy who died at the young age of 42 leaving his wife and 12 children behind. He was the most dynamic and youngest 42 you can imagine. At that memorial I began to reflect on the reason for life, our purpose.
The packed church alone spoke of the impact his life had had. In addition every speaker elucidated God’s work through the life of this man who had lived with abandon. Purpose was not what Matthew had sought to achieve, but purpose was what God had achieved through Matthew. God made Matthew Hiller great and used him to touch many lives for Christ with immense love.
As I sat there and looked back at my 57 years I realized that that is the same way God is achieving purpose through my life as well. I may have a dream, a vision, a calling, but God is the one who will achieve some purpose through me in that, not me by trying to bring it about. And it is God who has already worked through this life in many ways.
It was back in November that God said to me: “You are not to try to become what you believe I WANT you to be.” God brings purpose through my life – like the fruit of a tree. I’m not to try to make that happen. Then just the other day, God spoke to me as I prayed an oft-repeated prayer — “Lord make me the man you want me to be.” And all at once, I had this immediate response in my heart: “You already are.”
If I can internalize this, 57 will be a momentous year for me. In addition with the advent of this Camino Sabbatical, God has plans to remake me and live His purpose through me, in ways I cannot now anticipate. But of this I am convinced, God will do it.