By Johnnie Godwin
Contributing Columnist, B&R
I’m not easily irked, nor am I easily jerked around. Yet, there are two types of ad questions that irritate my soul. One of those questions is this: “Will you outlive your money?” The other question asks, “Will you live to be 80?” Both questions are out to get you in one way or another. One may want your money or want to tell you how to invest it. The other question may deal with your lifestyle and telling you how to live to be 80. What irks me is that both questions deal with anxieties and answers that only God knows. The Bible teaches planning ahead but not worrying ahead.
The futility of worrying about life points. Scripture repeatedly points out the futility of anxiety about what is only temporary or has to end in death on earth. Read Matthew 6:33. The verse does not guarantee a free ride on what we need in life; rather, it deals with the anxiety factor in life and how God in Christ tells us to focus on priorities. “The kingdom of God” here basically means the will of God. Your monetary plans and your longevity plans are totally up to God and His will (see James 4:13-17). However, we are accountable to God for what we do and how we live within time. Hebrews 9:27 reads, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” More simply, get saved by grace through faith in Christ; or we suffer eternal punishment (John 3). Jesus underlined the importance of stewardship of our gifts in all of life. Matthew 25:14-30’s nutshell teaches that it is wickedness to do nothing with what we have. So life is God’s gift to us, and we’re responsible for what we do with it all the breathing days of life.
Life is a series of turning points from the cradle to the grave. I titled this column “Training Wheels to Wheelchairs” simply to point out our challenges of learning to balance living in each stage of life. I could just as easily have titled it “From Diapers to Dying.” Life is both a marathon and a sprint with many hurdles to jump over. Spiritually speaking, we have to become aware of our own sin and the essential choice of trusting Christ as Lord and Savior. After that, life ideally is a series of saying yes to God as we deal with each hurdle. If our spirits are tied to God’s Spirit as the lodestone of life, we will make our best decisions. I now refer to life as “God’s amazing maze.” You see, I’m still alive but have not outlived my money essential for life’s needs. I’ve worked and planned hard for that to happen. Since you last read what I wrote in these pages, I’ve turned 80 years old; so I no longer have to consider the first question. Rather, I answer, “So what?” I just mean that if you have money and longevity, what difference does it make? It should mean more existence under God to etch the time of life into the pages of eternity. So when I die, I would like two Bible verses — from Genesis and Revelation — to top the eulogy: Genesis 25:8 re: Abraham and Revelation 14:13.
Running the race and finishing the course. I never had training wheels, but I learned to balance and ride a bicycle. My parents provided the training wheels of life that led me to balance and make my own decisions. At the autumn end of life, I’m not in a wheelchair, but my dad would say I’ve become decrepit. He loved that word . Nevertheless, my life is not over, and I’m still responsible for how I balance it and live it.
You’re somewhere along the way in life, and you may be worried about having enough of whatever your life may need. Possibly you’ve studied genetic factors in your family life and mortuary tables to see how long you’ll live. I don’t know that such studying is bad, but it is a poor way to live life if you’re anxious about it (see I Peter 5:7).
Summary. Let me conclude with this counsel. I was born during the Great Depression. One time we ran out of bread between paydays. Mother told me to come with her to go down the alleys and see if we could find soda bottles or milk bottles enough to get the deposit on them and buy a loaf of bread. At age 7, I needed white pants for a choir presentation at school. They cost $3. In dismay, Dad said, “We will provide you food, clothes, and shelter; but we don’t have any money for extras. If you want them, you’ll have to get a job.” So I showed up at the newspaper office and started selling newspapers for a nickel a piece, out of which I got to keep half. And I paid my way all my life. I married as a teenager, had three sons, and got three degrees in eight and one-half years. No student loan or debt. Being “Superman” affected my health to the point of anxiety and fear of death. But God pulled me out of that. My best early visions of God’s calling didn’t happen. Rather, His provision of what He wanted me to do exceeded visions I never even had and things beyond my grandest dreams. Not all of my pursuits were successful. But I learned to say, “Not all failures are equal.” When an old West Texas boy took the one talent God gave Him and invested it, God blessed it. So I pray that the final words at my homegoing will be, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” May you give God all your life and let Him take anxiety away from you. Anxiety is one of the devil’s strongest devices to keep you from making God’s right turning points. Let God, through His Spirit, guide you right!
If you do what I’ve just told you, you’ll laugh at the questions about whether you’ll outlive your money or whether you’ll live to be 80. I say this and enjoy laughing at 80, as an octogenarian. Whether you die young, middle, or old, find joy in God!
— Copyright 2017 by Johnnie C. Godwin. Write him: firstname.lastname@example.org.