I'm not sure who made the comments that sparked the following thoughts for me--in other words, what follows isn't entirely original--but I realized that the only area of my life where I can hope to grow stronger throughout the entirety of my life is in my spiritual life. I could start faithfully working out daily right now and still never get back to where I was at age 18 or 28. My 50th birthday serves as a reminder that my body is deteriorating. (I like the old Ashleigh Brilliant quote, “This is serious: some things supposed to last the rest of my life are already wearing out.”)
I can't even count on continuing to grow stronger in my intellectual capacity or professional capabilities, though I hope that I have many years of development in these areas. I know I have a lot to learn and more experience to gain and should be a smarter, more competent person in the years to come, but eventually, if I live long enough, even these parts of my life will begin to decline.
But there is one area where I can be growing now and can realistically hope to grow until the day I die, and that's in my faith, my walk with Christ, my spiritual understanding. I said the following words at my dad's memorial service in August:
"Lately, I’ve mostly been feeling kind of old, too, like I should have accomplished more in life by the time I’ve reached this age and like my course has been set. But then I realize that Dad came to Salem 34 years ago at this same stage of life and I see in the pages of Facebook and the faces in this sanctuary the impact that he had from that point forward. And I guess I wanted to say today to myself and everyone else here who isn’t quite sure if they’re young or old or who feels like their course has already been set that it is not too late to make a real investment in the lives of those around us, just as Dad did."
As I sat in church today and thought about this, I realized that I need to challenge myself and be more proactive in setting the stage for God to empower me "with inner strength through his Spirit." It may be too late for me to become a weightlifter or sprinter, or to aspire to be a nationally known admissions expert or a college president, but I still have lots of time left to learn and grow in my relationship with God, and it's possible for me to continue to grow stronger in my faith every day for the rest of my life.