Once I attended an orchestra concert in Differdange, Luxembourg. A young lady in our church participated in the evening and I wanted to encourage her.
That episode might have passed into the forgetfulness of a thousand other events of life that you do and move on, but someone that night caught my attention. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but the fellow who marked me was a drummer who didn’t have much to do.
This fellow looked a bit like a slightly overweight, balding Ian Fleming (you know, the first James Bond guy). In this memory he did mostly nothing for most of the concert, waiting for his big moment. The trumpeters trumpeted, the percussionists percussed, the flutists fluted, and the violinists … did whatever violinists do.
And our friend mostly waited.
I think he may have dinged a triangle or a few inconsequential things, but in my mind I see him next to a big drum (memories are cloudy). Finally, his time came and he banged away on the drum for a few bars like James Bond delivering right crosses to the temple of Dr. No.
Then he went back to doing mostly nothing.
Life Has Stages
Life is like that. We all pass through different stages of life and sometimes we wonder if our life really serves any purpose or not. We’re waiting or dinging triangles, wishing we were beating a big drum to the general admiration of all in attendance.
Teenagers can’t wait to finish their schooling and get on with life. Young adults pray, “Dear Lord Jesus, please don’t come back before I get married.”
Then they get married and after a few years they pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, come!”
Couples move into the stage of raising children and they think that will never end. Those little guys get bigger and consume more money at each stage of their development.
Then, God often favors us with grandkids, and though no one has been favored as much as me with my far-above-average-grandchildren, we’re all happy to have them around.
After 42 years of professional life we think: “If I could just retire.”
After a few years of retirement, we look ahead to see where this is all headed and see a sign, “Happy Valley Golden Years Home.” We try to put on the brakes but we all end up in a box at the end (I’m in my positive Joel Osteen-encouragement mode today).
We sail through different stages of life. No one is immune. Some we like, some we put up with, but there is no avoiding them.
Recently, I asked a group of people, how many of them were struggling in the stage of life where they were. I’d say 30-40% raised their hand. I wasn’t surprised. I love stability and security and leaving a known stage for an unknown stage can be scary—and exciting.
Hints For Negotiating Life’s Stages
Can I give you a couple of hints so that you can better negotiate your entry into a new period in life? (I couldn’t see if you nodded “yes” or “no” so I’ll assume you said “yes”).
1. Accept the inevitably of change. You’ve got to move on. You can’t stay here.
You can color your hair, Botox your skin, and change your wardrobe. They can push you into this stage of life kicking and screaming, but go you will. You’ll never be happy again if you can’t accept that life changes.
2. Look at those just ahead of you who are doing well in this new stage of life.
Talk with them, “How are you handling the fact that there are no more kids in the home?” “How are you handling the fact that there is a baby now?” “How did you get past the loss of your husband?” “How did you feel when your hair turned white (or blue).”
3. Savor the good times of past stages without wanting to go back. Lean on the lessons you learned in earlier stages because that will help you be happier quicker in this new place you find yourself.
4. If you miss the last stage, rejoice that it was good. It wasn’t that way for everyone. Some widows aren’t as sad as you about their loss because there marriage was a mess. Rejoice that it was good with your kids at home. Not everyone has that.
Good memories are better than good steaks. Enjoy them and eat what God puts before you today. You might be surprised at the richness of this new meal.
Know that although life changes, the Lord never changes. He was my God and he helped me when I was a child. I remember that.
Now that my hair is fifty shades of grey and white, He’s still God. He’s still whatever I need. He revealed Himself in the Old Testament under the name, “I AM.” He is whatever I need, whatever age or stage of life I find myself in.
“Stalwart walks in step with God;
his path blazed by God, he’s happy.
If he stumbles, he’s not down for long;
God has a grip on his hand.
I once was young, now I’m a graybeard—
not once have I seen an abandoned believer,
or his kids out roaming the streets.
Every day he’s out giving and lending,
his children making him proud.
Turn your back on evil,
work for the good and don’t quit.
God loves this kind of thing,
never turns away from his friends.” (Ps 37:24-28 Message)
Some of us need to stop kicking and fretting the fact that life is sweeping us forward and we didn’t want to leave where we were.
You know what? If you are always gazing backward into a departed past you’re missing some incredible scenery right where you are.
Maybe like my balding, slightly overweight Ian Fleming friend, it may not seem much compared to the past. But, if I play the part that God has assigned to me right now, for this part of my life, I’m going to make some sweet music.