I’ve been dreading this month all year. This month I turn 30, and I just don’t feel ready. I know that a number of my older friends will now deride and mock me for these feelings of woe. They, of course, have every right to for they were here and they survived. But the truth is that it’s not simply a “getting old” thing. I’ve never particularly dreaded aging. Rather, it’s the realization that at 30 I am not where I wanted to be at this stage in my life.
I look back over the years at a young, naive, and ambitious young man who had plans and dreams about what he was going to do with his life. I think about how I had planned to care for my family, serve the church, and establish myself. The reality does not match that vision. It’s at times been a bit dissapointing.
I had thought that by the time I was 30 I would be an established pastor somewhere. That I would have been making a living to support my family and provide for their wants and needs. I thought that I would have been completing a PhD or some other program. But I’ve not done any of those things.
Instead I’ve experienced my first fallout with a church. Then I bounced around for a while. I love the church I serve at now, but I also recognized that they cannot support me for much longer. Our financial situation at home dictates that I must get another job. If I am honest, there are days where I am very discouraged. I have often asked God why he brought me here to Portsmouth, why he has led me through these events, what he wants me to do with my life, and what he is teaching me. Often I find no answers to these questions. The cycle of discouragement continues.Maybe these plans weren’t realistic. I have a tendency to be audacious in my dreaming, but nonetheless I’ve found myself frustrated and somewhat disappointed over the last five years.
This month I am turning 30 and the truth is that I still feel like I have no clue what I am doing with my life! But despite all of that there are several things I do know with certainty:
1. I have an amazing wife! Krista has supported me and followed me through education, church changes, and tense life situations. She has stood by men, encouraged me at home, and kept me focused on what matters whenever my own self-indulgent pity-parties take place. I wouldn’t have made it even this far in my life if it were not for the ways God has used this patient, faithful, intelligent, and godly woman.
2. I love my family. At the end of the day I know that my kids don’t care how “successful” I am or feel. They just love their dad and want to play with him. My parents and in-laws are a constant encouragement and they don’t need me to see my list of accomplishments to value me. I am grateful for the family God has given me and I want to do a better job of expressing my appreciation.
3. I love the church. I have sometimes thought that if it weren’t for the church I would have accomplished more in my years since seminary. But despite all my frustrations, disappointments, and set backs I love the church. Some lament “institutional Christianity.” But my church family and the weekly gathering of us all together is important to me. I want to serve these people and this gathering. I love the church; I belong to the church.
4. I Would Like To Stay in Portsmouth. Over the years I have sent out resumes to churches all over the U.S., some even beyond. But honestly God has given me a heart for this community. We love our city and, as much as I miss metropolitan life, we want to be part of it. We want to stay and see God do a great work in this city. We want to help those trying to care for it and change it. I believe that communities like Portsmouth will go overlooked all over the U.S. as big leaders push for renewed focus on the major metropolitan urban areas. Poverty and crime are higher per capita in many rural areas, and the gospel is desperately need in these ares. So we want to stay!
5. God is Sovereign. Ultimately my life is in the hands of the one who controls the universe. All my dreams take a back seat to His designs. He is in control, and best of all I know that he knows what is best and wants what is best for me. I have to reconcile my desires with his will and submit. What I want may not ultimately be good for me and I have to concede that He is good and worthy of my submission.
Turning 30 frustrates me, but I am going to do my best to continue to trust God. He has always proven faithful.