"Ever been a registered driver in Arkansas?" the lady behind the desk at the state revenue office asked me.
"Yes, last time in 2004," I replied.
Then she laughed.
"Yep, you did. And, you sure have changed!"
Without being told, I knew what she was talking about. My hair’s much grayer now than it was back then. And, I chose to laugh with her rather than take offense at her comments.
"Just shows that I’ve lived," I said. "And, you know, I’ve found the secret of old age!"
"You have?" she said with a look of intrigue. "What is it?"
"Just keep on breathing," I replied, as we both had a good laugh.
She didn’t show me what my driver’s license photo looked like back in ’04, but I’m sure my hair was much darker then. But, again, I didn’t get offended by her comment — for graying hair usually accompanies advancing years and shouldn’t embarrass us. Again, it just shows that we’ve lived and, hopefully, is a "crown of glory because we’ve lived a righteous life" (Proverbs 16:31).
Think about it:
Growing older physically doesn’t mean growing wiser spiritually. We all know folks in their 70s, 80s and 90s who are crotchety, overbearing, fault-finding and make terrible decisions. And, even at those advanced ages, they live with no thought of God or eternity.
But, then we find some in their teens, 20s and 30s who are wise beyond their years. They make good choices and are quite disciplined in what they do. They also live "with the End in sight," wanting to invest their lives in things that are Eternal, not temporal.
What’s the difference?
Part of it may be upbringing. Part of it may be education. But, most likely, it’s because they realize early on that our "lives here are as a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away" (James 4:13-14). And, they want to "redeem their time here" (Ephesians 5:16) by living in loving surrender to the One Who created them.
That’s what happened to me at an early age.
After being abandoned along with my two sisters at an early age by our biological parents, we were adopted by a couple who couldn’t have any children. Although ours was a dysfunctional family, our adoptive parents took us to church every time the door was open. And, it was in that little, country church in central Arkansas where I realized there was Someone (Jesus) Who loved me enough to die on the Cross for me.
So, one night during a revival service at the age of seven I went forward and gave my heart to Him. And, eight years later I surrendered to preach and have never looked back.
Little did I know God’s Plan for my life would include spending 10 years halfway around the world as a missionary, 21-plus years (to date) as a military chaplain and 35-plus years as a pastor. These various ministries and locations have taught me much — and they’ve certainly taught me the importance of dependence upon Him.
Because of that, when people joke, "You sure are getting old!" I usually reply, "No, I’m getting closer. Closer to Home. And, closer to seeing my Lord."
What blessed Assurance! What enduring Hope! What comfort!
Here’s hoping you also have those in your life. And, you can if you entrust your life to the One Whose Eye is upon the sparrow, knowing "He’ll not cast you off in the time of old age or forsake you when your strength fails" (Psalm 71:9, 18). God bless you!
To contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled "Morning Manna," write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at email@example.com.