The other day, a friend texted me a picture from our college days. I was shirtless, in the dorm bathroom with a dozen soccer teammates, putting tinfoil on my soon-to-be bleached-blonde afro.
(Don’t judge. This blog is supposed to be a safe place . . . )
I showed the picture to my wife and commented, “Man, I’m still as skinny as I was 15 years ago.” Kim looked back with eyebrows that threatened to invade her hairline. “What?” I insisted. “I am!” But her compassionate face just stared back and her head moved slowly from side to side.
That’s when it hit me—I am middle-aged.
I thought it would never happen, but (alas) it has. My metabolism is slowing down. My weight is creeping up. My older friends, who warned me about approaching 40, have gotten the last word.
“When did you get so grey?” my brother asks.
“Daddy, why can’t you touch your toes?” my daughter wonders.
“Why do I keep pulling this hamstring?” I lament.
Well . . . shoot. I was sure Jesus would have been back by now to save me from actually having to take care of my body (I called it the Judgment Day Diet). Didn’t you say you’d be back “soon,” Jesus?
While the middle-aged thing has been tough, one thing has kept my hopes high—I am a Christian.
And one of the most thrilling parts about being a Christian is that your value as a person is not based on your past performance, your present productivity, or your future potential. Your value is not determined by an ever-young culture.
On the contrary, your value is determined by a never-changing God.
That is what I want to tell all of you out there. As the birthdays pass by and your body proves that Paul was right—you are in bondage to physical decay (Romans 8:21)—you have every reason to rejoice. Even if . . .
You are the “old guy” at pickup hoops with the double knee braces and the stamina of a pregnant hippo.
You are the aging athlete who can no longer compete with her 5K personal best.
You are the company liability who is frequently offered a buyout for an early company exit.
You are the aging pastor whom no church wants to pay for so little future potential.
You are the woman who looks in the mirror and realizes you might not turn another head in your life.
You are the person whose energy is waning, whose memory is slipping, whose joints are stiffening.
Even if that is you, here’s the glorious truth—Jesus made sure your Father would always value you.
“He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
There is no asterisk after that promise. No “unless you’re past your prime.” No “applies to millennials only.” Just a blanket statement of grace, of God’s crazy love for you and endless delight in you.
So when you stare at that not-quite-college reflection in the mirror, remember the face of your Savior. Not bored. Not unimpressive. Not indifferent.
His face is shining on you and is gracious to you.
Here is something to love about being a middle-aged Christian—“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Pastor Mike Novotny has served God’s people in full-time ministry since 2007 as a pastor in Madison and now Appleton, Wisconsin. He also serves as a host and speaker for the Time of Grace television program and contributes to the written resources of Time of Grace Ministry. Pastor Mike is married to Kim and has two daughters.
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