Monday, May 28, 2012

Today I Am 40..!?!?!?

So, today's my birthday.  Actually it isn't just any birthday, but it is a significant one.  The odometer on the jalopy of my life just turned another digit on the dashboard - today I turn 40!  My life may now have been described by any worldly metric as, lasting "a long time".  The number 40 in Biblical terms has always been a symbol of "a long time".  Noah sailed his boat on the water for 40 days - or just "a long time."  Moses led the Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years, or "a long time." Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days - or "a long time."  So, I have now been around "a long time."  Or as one of my twenty-something staff wrote to me in a birthday card - "Man, you're old."

And, not just old, this year, my birthday is coinciding with so many different and life-changing events.  In two weeks we are moving from Paso Robles to Colorado Springs to take up a new pastoral call and to live in a new place.  This will singly be the most significant spiritual and professional move of my life.  No pastoral call I have had before has meant as much to me as Highlands Church has; no future call will offer more opportunity and sheer Holy Spirit embed possibility as the one in Colorado Springs.  If there was a time to shift proverbial life gears in one's life, 40 might just be one of those moments.  As another pastoral friend observed, a New Church Developer like me in Moorpark, California; "Who knows if you were not born for this time and this place?"

Also, two months from now Star and I will be having our second baby.  This baby coming into our lives by natural means is a miracle upon miracles, the kind that only God Himself could have brought.  A baby of this dimension coming into the lives of an "older couple" (think Abraham and Sarah) is actually the sort of miracle that God would normally have marked with a celestial happening in the sky, like a star or a comet or something.  Come to think of it, there was a momentous lunar eclipse in the sky last week, wasn't there?  Probably no connection to my specific life, but you never know:-).

And, as it happens, my birthday this year also falls upon the exact day of Memorial Day, May 28.  I have always loved the debate about the exact origins of Memorial Day.  For over 100 years there has been an arm wrestling match between two cities in the southern part of America over who actually started the day.  Both cities have the name Columbus (Columbus, Georgia - Columbus, Mississippi) - and both cities flank the great Mississippi river, like proverbial stopping points of Huckleberry Finn.  The story on the beginnings of Memorial Day goes that years after the Civil War, when families were still mourning the loss of their loved ones, women from the town walked from their homes, strewing flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers.  On the first Memorial Day there seems to have been a reminiscence of times gone by, of lives lost, of relationships changed, of things passed away, of being around "a long time", and yet moving beyond that "long time" - to something new, reborn even.

Before I close this meandering blogpost - maybe it is a condition of old age - I want to quickly reflect on what all of this means.  Or, to put it in the terms of the Israelites in the book of Joshua - "What do these stones mean?"  In short, I have no idea.  But this I am sure of - I am grateful that God has been with me for these 40 years, He has blessed me as much as Abraham himself, I am amazed at what He has done through a fallen vessel like me, and flummoxed that He seems to have more in store for my life - and yours, as those who know me, and work with me, journey together, after this elapsing of, "a long time..."

All For Now,


  1. Graham,
    I just want you to know how much we have enjoyed having you as a pastor! Even after our move to Oklahoma, we still have tuned in to your sermons. Jacob and Scott have truly grown in Spirit from attending Highlands throughout high school and now college. It was so important to us to have a church supporting youth the way you have and they have been blessed, as we have. Congratulations to you and Starr on the baby soon to come. Best wishes for your plans in Colorado! You will all be missed dearly!
    Love to all,
    Dea Weller

  2. You and Mia share the same birthday! You being 40 of course...and Mia turning 1. Momentous occasions indeed.
    -Tim and Debra

  3. Side note: It rained for 40 days. Noah was on an the ark for an entire year according to Genesis, and no sailing involved. -- but that wasn't your point; "a long time" and the number 40 was. I get it!

    Congratulations! Good move. I admire you standing up for what you believe. God's inspired word the Bible is very clear about on the moral cleanness of the church. (1 Cor. 6:9-11) I pray that you left truly for your moral belief and not for money and prestige. Your pure motives will shine through.