I spent a few minutes yesterday with a gentlemen who will soon be celebrating his 95th birthday. In a few days, our family will celebrate my father’s 80th. (He’s the guy in the picture with the light above his ear, talking to his older brother, Paul.) It wasn’t very long ago that I experienced the traditional “over-the-hill” ribbing that comes with accumulating fifty birthdays.
I’ve been thinking about that “over-the-hill” stuff. The joke behind the term is that you have spent your youth, that your strength has dwindled and your knowledge is outdated. It’s time for you to go graze in the south forty and leave the pulling and plowing to the younger and more in touch generation. But having lived a few years “over-the-hill,” I’ve found that there are some benefits to being on this side. For me, the greatest benefit is that I can now see where most roads end.
Life is full of options, each a road that promises the traveler a delightful destination with unique experiences and views along the way.You choose your path with confidence in the one making the promise, or trusting your own instincts as your guide because, on the front side of life’s hill, you can’t see where the road you’ve chosen actually leads. You can’t see the twists and curves, the bumps and bridges that, stretched end-to-end, all roads are made of. So you have to trust that you’ve chosen well because, from the starting side of the hill, you can’t see where the road goes, let alone where it ends.
But once you’re over the hill, the view changes. While you still can’t see past the horizon of your life, you are able to look around and see where all the roads lead and what the travelers have experienced. You were only able to choose one path to walk, but once you are over the hill, you can see where all those other options you rejected would have taken you. You can compare where you, where you’ve been, and where you are headed with those who took the roads you refused. The observations can be a little sobering and unsettling.
As I survey the landscape from this side of the hill, I’m grateful God helped me choose the road I’ve walked. It isn’t the most popular and some consider it a bit dated, yet I’ve arrived here with my family intact and my children valuing the same relationship with God that my parents and grandparents passed to me. A relationship that is marked by church services where God’s spirit moves strong and His Word plows deep and His call to consecration is heavy. Where the Bible holds the first and final answer for every life choice, the spiritual work of prayer is a treasured appointment, and the cross He asked us to carry is revered daily — and it is all wrapped in the awesome wonder that the King of Glory would choose us to walk with Him.
I’m not sure we would have arrived here had we taken a different path. At times, other roads looked more attractive and a little easier to navigate. But I wanted to make sure my children had the opportunity to experience God like some of the old-timers I knew and listened to when I was a boy, so I did my best to stay on the path I’d heard them describe. I’ve not been disappointed.
I’ve told you my story not to critique or criticize those who chose different paths, but to explain why I am still here, still traveling this road. It has taken us through every spiritual experience I wanted my children to witness for themselves. I didn’t want them to just hear what their grandfather experienced, I wanted them to stand in the center of a similar move of God. I didn’t want them to only hear testimonies of how God honors His Word, I wanted them to know how it feels when God proves His Word true in their own lives. I didn’t want them to just read about the Holy Ghost moving on people, I wanted them to feel that anointing for themselves. Only then could I be confident that they had enough information to wisely chose the road they wanted to walk. Regardless of how satisfied I am with the path I’ve chosen, I can’t pick theirs for them. Each person will chose his own road. Including my children. Including yours.
As I ponder things on this side of the hill, I have no second-thoughts, no desire for do-overs. I see lots of room for improvement in me and remember plenty of times where I goofed up, but it was never the road’s fault. So I’ll keep on walking this road, encouraging others to travel along. Because from what I see from over-the-hill, no road leads to a better place than this one.