From my birth on November 20, 1943, to my 70th birthday of 2013, yours truly now passes willfully into my 80th birthday territory that Moses describes as “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”
So deciding to put aside the political problems of the day to dwell on the more sober aspects of life, I give you here the type of piece that I generally reserve for my writing but present it to you here through my selfish excuse that passing into the territory of Moses comes along but once in a lifetime – and that only if you’ve survived this long. So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom… Turning 80 / God’s Perfect Number…
As is evident from the bio in my books, blogs, website, FB and/or any other popular forms of media, I have been led these many decades (nigh on too many to count) by a biblical guiding principle that runs the above forementioned “So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” being no coincidence either, that two verses prior to that clarion call towards a lucid understanding of life, Moses was led to bring forth the underlying reason for seeking such wisdom, when he evinced “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”
His golden locks Time hath to silver turn’d; O Time too swift, O swiftness never ceasing! His youth ‘gainst time and age hath ever spurn’d, But spurn’d in vain; youth waneth by increasing: Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers but fading seen; Duty, faith, love, are roots, and ever green.
From George Peele’s Sonnet: A Farewell To Arms, 1590
Thus, it is with a certain degree of trepidation that I enter into the aforementioned threescore and ten; not quite ready to fly away just yet, but definitely aware that more of my life is now behind me, than up ahead; what I like to describe as having more life left than years.
I will also take some comfort from the blessed assurance of genealogical evidence from both branches of our family tree indicating impressive longevity in some (both male and female) despite the many ills of outdoor toilets, pipe smoke, cooking with lard, working in coal mines and cotton mills, cooking over open flames, using water straight from the tap or the well, bathing once a week (generally Saturday nights) in a tin tub in front of an open fire, taking a daily bottle of Guinness to bed (for “digestive” purposes of course), slathering butter over everything, having three squares a day beginning with fried eggs, bacon, sausage, black puddings, fried tomatoes, mushrooms (and not forgetting fried bread) for breakfast, working 12 hours a day, raising big families, fighting in two world wars; and that was just for starters, the perils of Britain’s National Health Service and America’s dastardly Obamacare being far off into the distant future. Turning 80 / God’s Perfect Number … points to ponder indeed!
Birthed as I was, into this milieu in the middle of WWII while most of the male family members were engaged in defeating the Axis of evil, I submit herewith, a staccato snapshot of life’s highlights, limiting myself to three for each decade:
1943-53: Started school (1948); kicked first soccer ball; broke first window
1953-63: Blossomed in sports; 8 years classical piano/rock band The 7 Diamonds; engineering college
1963-73: 2 years in Jamaica/met the Queen; moved to Canada; Andrew born
1973-83: Retired from soccer (1978)/met the Duke of Edinburgh; retail business; moved to Florida, USA
1983-93: Relocated to Boston/Cape Cod; Kyle & Bryce born; moved to Dallas
1993-2003: Early barren years; Jesus Christ; coaching youth soccer/restoration
2003-2013: Began writing again/Teen Community Bible Study; Homeless ministry; website developed/redemption
So what have I learned these past 70/80 years, and what view from these lofty 7 storeys of high-rise experience? Well naturally, there are many thoughts that come to mind, but a simplistic three will suffice for now.
Number One: I’m thankful that I was born. Without going into too much detail, my birth was complicated following an earlier miscarriage of some sort, and came right after what might well have been an older brother. Had that happened, I likely wouldn’t have come along, nor would my sister, who arrived two years after me (almost to the day). My “right to life” came from God himself, and no one else.
Number Two: I’m grateful that I was born into a family of caring, loving, devoted parents and extended family members who, while not being what you might call “overly churched” nor spiritually-motivated, nevertheless were wonderful relatives, neighbors, advisers, friends, listeners, entertainers, revelers, and educators; by their example, work ethic, honor, and commitment to each other, they became excellent role models for my sister and I to follow. Thankfully, they knew that marriage was consecrated between a man and a woman, that children needed both a father and a mother, and embraced the concept fully.
Number Three: I’m humbled that even in my wildest years, God had the audacity to have Jesus Christ come knock, knock, knocking on my spiritual door to redirect me into his plan for my life. And even throughout the barren years, when I kept rejecting his insistent advances, I’m humbled that the Shepherd, who is now my companion and friend, chose two wonderful mothers for my sons, one who birthed Andrew, and the other who brought forth Kyle and Bryce. Without them, I now wouldn’t be extolling the blessings that they have been in my life, and the joy abounding from witnessing three sons accomplishing mighty things. Indeed, indeed … Turning 80 / God’s Perfect Number…
No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
John Donne, No Man is an Island, Meditation XVII, 1624
As to the admonition “and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow,” I fully intend to be laboring on in the tradition of “blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing,” since the promise is “of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him a ruler over all that he hath.” And finally, as to “for it is soon cut off, and we fly away,” I’m reminded constantly “for a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”
So there you have it. Three lessons of life impressed upon me after 70, then 80 years on this planet. I don’t like to think about, nor do I dwell upon, the prospect of death, but it is after all, the destiny we all share. We could debate for hours on the merits of where the final depot is or isn’t, yet I do believe in my heart of hearts, that hell is full of believers – what I term my “oops” theory. Atheists and God-haters spend lifetimes denying what is inevitable. I am still blessed with good health, good cheer, good demeanor. I savor every moment, cherish every hour, enjoy every day.
The older I get, the simple joyful things of life become more precious than ever, and thus I try my darnedest to focus only on the good – God and Jesus Christ, love, family, friends, and my writing – and forget about all the other stuff that ultimately I have little to no control over. Even the Dallas Cowboys ever winning a Super Bowl again. God Bless their trying hearts.
So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom ~ Psalm 90:12