Since I turned 40, one event after another has reminded me that I am approaching eternity as a train approaches a train station … every tick of my watch is a clattering step along the tracks, each moment ever closer to the end of this noisy, breezy, winding, enigmatic life on earth. I press my face to the window … but I cannot see to the front … I must be content to look through the window and watch the scenes of my life blinking past. Metaphorically, perhaps, I am able to feel the coldness of the grave somewhere out there in the night. Here in the reflection of this glass I can see the artwork of death, the dissipation of my youth, (shrewd, deceptive, temperamental youth!) and yet somehow I am not afraid. The Spirit is being poured into my inner being. Life is getting to be so rich, so deep. I am crossing the bridge … molting … leaving my skin behind, waking up in the glorious aesthetics of the soul.
Kierkegaard wrote of life and imminent death, comparing men and women of faith to lilies of the field: “[The lily’s] coming into being becomes its destruction, indeed it seems as if it came into existence and became beautiful only to be destroyed—yet the obedient lily obediently submits to this, it knows that such is God’s will, and it shoots up…. A man, or we men, in the situation of the lily would be in despair at the thought that coming into existence and destruction was one thing, and therefore would prevent ourselves by despair from becoming what we might become, though it were but for an instant. With the lily it is otherwise. It was absolutely obedient, hence it became itself in its beauty, it became actually its whole possibility, undisturbed, absolutely undisturbed by the thought that the same instant was its death.”
So bring it on then! As my body weakens with age, my soul grows stronger. Whatever days and nights remain, I am determined to live them courageously. Shakespeare wrote, “Cowards die many times before their deaths, the valiant never taste of death but once.” Jesus, I don’t want to exist even one day as the walking, breathing, eating dead. As long as my hands can move, may they serve You. As long as my lungs can breathe, may they breathe hope. As long as my heart can feel, may it be thumping in passion for You. As long as my mind can think, may it be consumed by Your words. As long as my eyes can see, may they see your face. As long as my mouth can sing, may it be filled up with a new song. O my soul , be obedient to your destiny; be swallowed up by the youth of eternal life; even now, in these moments may I embrace eternity to the very core of my being.
As I grow young, I don’t want to offer advice; I want to make disciples. As I grow young, I don’t want to settle into mediocre marriage; I am still a voyager on a quest to find her soul. As I grow young, I don’t want to lean back in my chair; I want to change the world. As I grow young, I don’t want to see Indonesia as my calling; I want to see Christ as my calling. As I grow young, I don’t want to run for shelter; I want to stand on the edge of the cliff; to turn my face toward the storm.
Paul Andrew Richardson
East Java Indonesia