Sixty Years in the Learning

In early April, I turned sixty.  Sixty!  Despite the depressing sound of it, sixty has been better than I expected.  I am surrounded by love and by family.  God has blessed my ministry beyond anything I could have ever imagined.  I can still do most of what I could do when I was younger and on a given day, I am as good as I ever was. (I made the single best play at shortstop I have ever made in my life last fall).  I am also a lot better husband (ask Melissa), a more caring person (you will have to take my word) and a whole lot more comfortable in my skin than I used to be. 

Today I was thinking about what God is teaching me about life and decided to share eight insights with you:

  1. Don’t put stuff off My grandpa Hal Bishop died at 51.  He was a hard driving man who had his first heart attack on the baseball field (we are clearly nothing alike).  It occurs to me that I best be getting at anything I want to make sure gets done in my life.  I don’t want to live an unfinished life. 
  2. Grace is a comfort I have always cognitively known I am saved by grace but I think that after sixty years, I am starting to get it.  Grace is a gift.  I can’t earn it and I don’t deserve it.  Grace is offered in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I am not saved because I am good; I am saved because God is good.  My salvation rests upon God’s grip on me, not my grip on God. 
  3. Humility has rooted deeply I was asked to speak at a conference some time back and responded, “You should have asked me a few years ago.  I knew everything back then.”  At sixty, I find myself more aware of the contributions of others to any success I have enjoyed, more comfortable with the flow of life, less personally ambitious and thankful to God for any abilities He may have had entrusted to me.  You don’t need to be the smartest person in the room when you realized you are the most blessed.
  4. Live forward You can’t live forward, looking backward.  Spend your time staring at the side view mirror and past pain will always seem “closer than it appears.”  There has been struggle, there have been tears, there has been disappointment and there has been loss.  It is my history but it is not my address.   
  5. Forgive This is huge.  Forgiving others for the “trespasses” I perceive they have made against me, sets me free.  They are evicted from my head.  I forgive for my emotional and spiritual well-being and leave the rest to God. Unforgiveness just weighs too much for a sixty year old to carry around.
  6. Live until you die Aging is inevitable but getting old is optional.  I can just feel me trying to get more impatient, inflexible and surly by the year.  I have decided to fight it because there is no upside.  Not for me or for anyone else. I choose to smile, look on the bright side and encourage others.  I will know it is time to stop living when I die.
  7. Fill your “things you will never regret” bucket I have this life-bucket called, “Things I will never regret.”  These include the 6:00 a.m. coffee dates with Melissa, weekday morning breakfasts with my dad, daily phone calls with mom, connecting with my two children, times of laughter with family and good friends, enjoying my grandchildren, reconnecting with old friends or sending someone who has touched my life a word of appreciation.  I will never regret these things.
  8. Keep checking things off the bucket list  I still want to go to Egypt, see the Northern Lights and spend some time in Yellowstone.  I also want to see the ancient “quarry pit turned graveyard” (where I believe the crucifixion happened) under the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.  Three of the four items are already on my calendar.  Having things to look forward to is a key to happiness at any age.

I encourage you to think about where you have been, how you are changing and the things God is teaching you.  Live an examined and intentional life. And while you are doing all that, don’t forget to enjoy your life.  It is a precious gift from God that we should never take for granted.

Rev. Shane L. Bishop has been the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois since 1997. He is the author of the blog “12 Things I See Happy People Do” that is approaching 4 million reads. His most recent books include, “A Trail Guide to the Gospel of John” and “Love God, Love People, Don’t Do Dumb Crap.”

Published by Rev. Shane L. Bishop

Senior Pastor of Christ Church, Fairview Heights, IL since 1997. I am an orthodox Christian but I am not in a bad mood about it.

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