I'm pleased to say that today is my 40th birthday. Yes, I'm over the top of the hill now and sliding down the other side! In some cultures, you're not regarded as a full-grown man until you reach 40. I guess I made it. When I look back at the friends I've lost over the years and realize how many of them never made it this far, I feel inordinately blessed.
I spent my 30's in two places - pastoring two churches and working toward a PhD. We'll start with the PhD. I was just shy of 30 when I took my qualifying examinations and began my German studies in 1998. I was 31 (one day shy of 32) when I got married - which was at the end of my first year of PhD seminar studies (BTW, don't do that - it's a bad plan. Too much pressure). I graduated with my PhD two days shy of my 38th Bday - the end of a long but impassioned academic journey. Academically, I loved my 30's.
Pastoring - something I never planned to do. I was going to stay in student ministry by teaching at the collegiate level. It seemed like a good plan. Too bad it wasn't what the Lord had in mind. I had just started PhD work when Memorial Baptist Church of Corsicana came calling. The logical part of my brain screamed out NO! but the obedient-to-the Lord part said "Yes, I'll serve as your pastor." Seven years later, I was absolutely convinced the calling of God, at least for now, was to be a pastor - I just had to try it first to find that out. Imagine my surprise when the Lord called us here to Frankston. Now we've been here a year and I'm even more sure this is what the Lord has called me to.
I still wonder why the Lord led down this crazy path to be here doing this. I've got no explanation. I get frustrated with some of the minutua and sometimes wonder if the Lord will lead us to teach someday. But for today, this, the beginning of my 40th year, I say to the Lord "thanks" and "use me Lord, wherever it is you need me to go and whatever you need me to do."
Here's to the next 40! May they be more productive to the Kingdom of God than my first 40.