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In the December of our lives, we set goals to maximize use of God’s gifts


When I was young, Frank Sinatra sang a love song called “September Song.” The melody was haunting and — for a young romantic — the words were appealing.
Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December, but the days grow short when you reach September. When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame, one hasn’t got time for the waiting game.
Now I am thinking that if the metaphor of a lifetime is one year, I first heard and loved that song when I was completing my “January.”
Having marked my 77th birthday last July, I am aware that I am in “my December,” and the days are “dwindling down to a precious few.”
Always being conscious of time, I have tried to make good use of every day, especially these past 50 years. Today I am blessed to be able to teach full time, remain connected to my church family and see my children and grandchildren as they have time.
If I am honest with myself, I am still a workaholic and am missing wonderful opportunities with my family. And I certainly should be serving the Kingdom much more effectively.
As Joyce and I have planned wills, burial plots, distribution of prized positions, sorting treasures from stuff, the end of life has been on my mind.
Although I am like most in secretly believing that I will never die, I keep wondering, “When?” I know it’s in God’s hands, but wouldn’t it be great to know when?
Or would it?
Recently, in studying the Gospel of Luke, I noticed that every time Jesus was asked about the time for restoring the Kingdom, he put aside the question. A friend observed that Jesus was putting the question out of the realm of concern.
Puzzling about the end of life only diverts from the important work of living fully. The opportunities abound to such an extent that doing everything is impossible. So in the “December” of life I must focus and stay dedicated to what is most important to maximizing God’s gifts to me.
Here are a few of the priorities we are setting. Hopefully, what we are considering about ourselves can help readers no matter their time in life.
• The great joy and source of genuine satisfaction is our family. We have six great children (three by birth and three by marriage) and 10 grandchildren (eight by birth and two by marriage). We are letting time slip by without the time and fun we owe to ourselves to enjoy them.
• Through nearly 55 years on campuses of Christian universities, we have had bountiful friendships with wonderful human beings who share a common love for God and humanity. Yet devotion to meaningful service and boundless commitments mean we rarely have time with those friends and mentors who have added color and life to our existences.
• Bible study and prayer have been central to our lives together, but the fury of our current schedules means that only routine prayers for meals and preparation for a group Bible study constitute the extent of what we share. The bonding that began over our dinner table when we were first married is needed as we take advantage of every new day.
• My daily Bible study began about the same time I first heard “September Song.” Years of study have been a blessing, but I confess that I need to start afresh with new questions and perceptive study — not just to know the Bible, but to let God reshape my life and spirit.
• Joyce and I always have felt that we have gifts from God to teach and mentor.
Joyce has focused on pre-K children, loving, training and nurturing at the age when the formative development of minds is most responsive to information, ideas and God’s will. All our lives she has taught and loved children in Bible school and in the neighborhood. Without this work she would feel lost.
As for me, at age 22 I walked into my first college class. I felt so much at home that I can hardly think of not having the chance to study and learn with these amazing people as they begin their adult journey.
In the “December” of our lives, we struggle to know how to do all we have done and do even more.
We are trusting in God to help.
CONTACT [email protected].

Filed under: Insight

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