Today I turn 60-years old. I know it’s a big milestone in life, but at the moment I am not finding it as depressing as I thought I would when I considered this day in years past. As I wrote before, turning 50 was an emotionally difficult thing for me because it kind of took me by surprise.
I have expected the same reaction to turning 60 but it hasn’t happened. Probably because I have had 10-years to consider turning 60, which I didn’t really do with my up-coming 50th birthday. Life was busy in my 40’s and then one day it just popped up on my calendar — my 50th birthday. Now I am 60-years of age and came as no surprise.
It has long been my practice to take time around my birthdays to think and plan my future, much like most do around New Years. In my younger days my birthdays would have me evaluating goals and strategies for achieve or becoming, but this year it’s been a bit more introspective.
As I try to put these thoughts in words, it has occurred to me that there have been three main thoughts that I have been juggling around in my thinking time that are related to my 60-year existence, and I’ll share those here:
First, I’ve been thinking about the nature of eternal life. Aging to 60-years old has me thinking that eternal life really is possible, in Christ of course, but while I physically feel the effects of aging, mentally I feel timeless. I am who I always was, though I may look old, my mind seems as young as it always was. Granted I am more forgetful and I have matured in my mental abilities but I can truly imagine the eternal life that’s ahead for those in Christ.
Growing older has made it easier to imagine what it must be like to have optimal health with no effects of sin and living in a timeless world where there is no illness, no limitations, and no death. Eternity in Heaven seems like it will be life with an ageless body and a timeless mind.
Influence on Children
Second, I’ve been thinking about what influence of my life I will leave behind for my children. As a hospital chaplain I am often bedside with families whose loved ones have died. Family tends to openly reflect on the deceased and talk about the life that has passed. Most have positive reflections but there have been times when adult children have confessed their disdain for a parent’s life at their passing.
Naturally, I think to myself what that day could like when I’ve breathed my last and family reflects upon my life. For many years I have thought about the legacy I may leave behind for my children’s future. In my mind I have had regrets for time lost and conversations unspoken, but I have had the attitude that after I die my children will have my thoughts and guidance available to them through my books and blog articles. However, I have come to realize that my influence upon their lives likely ended in their teenage years when they began living their own lives.
Meaningless in Ecclesiastes
Third, I’ve been thinking about Solomon’s thoughts from the book of Ecclesiastes. I feel like I can finally understand the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes and Solomon’s cry of “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Everything is meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 12:8 NIV).
I have come to understand that everything is meaningless in our own eyes. The goals, aspirations, and earthly values that I have held dear as meaningful for these 60 years are actually meaningless in the sight of eternity. Much of what I sought out to achieve or strive to become or fought to gain are at this time in my life, meaningless.
Life can’t be relived but I think I would approach it differently by being more patient, by planning more long-term, and by enjoying life in the moment. I think I would find more satisfaction in life’s meaninglessness by being cognizant of Solomon’s conclusion when he says, “here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV).