As I stare down the road to the final days before I turn 50, I ponder this milestone. How did I get here? And how did I get here so fast? I am one of the youngest of my siblings. I always had others to look up to. But now the scales are tipping.
The first ten years were carefree and fun, running around in the village of Kaisenik and the mission town of Ukarumpa in Papua New Guinea. Playing in the creek. Sorting rocks. Sewing an elaborate wardrobe for my “Chrissy” doll. Eating fresh papaya, coconut and sugarcane. Letting substitute “children’s home” parents become my extended family. Learning Bible stories and verses through songs that played on my tiny toy record player. During these years, I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and give me eternal life (Luke 17:3).
My teens years were filled with more growth and discovery of who I am. I played saxophone in two bands and sang in every choir or musical I could. I made good grades and had opportunities to exercise leadership in school and youth group. I ran with a large group of really smart leaders who stretched me. I realized that I wanted to live my life in such a way that if I died, others would want to believe in my Lord. I committed to trying to become like Jesus. My theme verse at this time was “And not because we think we can do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power and success comes from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).
My twenties weren’t so easy. I was “torn” away from my birthplace and plucked down in the unknown world of Baylor University. Through tears and confusion, I figured out how to live on my own, made some dear friends and found Jesus to be more than enough for my loneliness and fear. I discovered I loved leading small group Bible studies, earned two degrees, met and married an amazing man, moved to Indonesia and just squeezed in two sons before turning 30. During this time, I learned that God is able to “do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesian 3:20) and that all I had to do was ask (James 4:2).
Most of my thirties were spent in Indonesia, raising and teaching my sons, grieving another child miscarried at 12 weeks, learning another language and culture. These years were filled with growth through pain—marital struggles, cross-cultural tension, riots and evacuation, sickness, deaths of dear friends and separation from family. Lessons of rejoicing in suffering, changing myself and not those around me, finding my true self in Jesus and realizing He loved me lavishly characterized those years. And yet I also dabbled in things I discovered I liked to do – writing a Bible curriculum, teaching a women’s study, discipling others. My treasure from God’s word during these years was that He takes “delight in me” and “rejoices over me” as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride (Isaiah 62:4-5).
And then God called us “back from the ends of the earth to serve him” (Isaiah 41:9). And so the last decade of my semi-long life has been spent settling into America, buying a home, launching my sons, actually using my degrees, teaching, writing Bible studies, learning to be an ezer kenegdo (a strong helper) and being able to say…this is who I am, this is how God made me, this is what he created me to do and I’m comfortable, happy and fulfilled to serve him. Ephesians 4:11-12 has been my driving force these past ten years. I was sent to “prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all attain to the fullness of Christ.”
So as I face 50, why am I afraid? Can I continue to do the things I am good at and love to do? Can I and my husband find greater oneness? Will our health remain good? Will these aches and pains increase? Can we take the best of who we are and the experience we have gained and truly move mountains for God? Can we believe and see the glory of God (John 11:40)? I really do want to make this next decade the best ever.
The words of a song currently playing in my car CD answer my questions. “Through the rain, through the clouds, through the tests and the trials, You hold me. In the highs and the lows, in the midst of the storm, Your hands won’t let you. You won’t let go. I will not be afraid for I know who holds my tomorrow and I will not be afraid for I know He’ll make a way. My rock, my shield, my help, my strength, my hope, my God will make a way” (Josh Lopez).
Thank you Lord for a truly blessed and satisfying life so far. I choose to believe in faith that whatever you take me through in the next years will contain the same blessing, faithfulness and love, for I am following the same God and You never change.