My father passed on a legacy to each of his children. It is a question. We all hated being asked this. It would come every year whether we wanted it or not. Most of the years each of us kids would groan when Dad asked it. But in some strange way, we have all continued “Dear Ol’ Dad’s” tradition long after his passing, and yes, even my daughter has picked it up and I expect it will get passed on. I don’t know where it started. Around our family all one has to say are the two words “the question” and everyone instantly knows exactly what is being asked.
My father had a tradition of every year, sitting at the table on that person’s birthday while eating cake, asking “What are your observations on attaining this new echelon in life? “ From the time we could talk as a child, to the last celebration before dad’s passing, the question would come, without fail, every year. I’m sure when I see him in heaven, the first thing he will ask will be: “What are your observations on attaining this new echelon in life?” **Smile**
So yesterday, was my day to be asked “the question”. In true family fashion, everyone in my family did their part in the legacy and asked me “What are your observations on attaining this new echelon in life?” I have to admit, I appreciate that question more and more as the years pass. Perhaps it is because I finally feel like I can answer it!
So this year I share my answer with you, my extended family. This year has been an incredible year that frankly brings tears to my eyes when I reflect back on it. When “the question” was asked of me last December, I would probably have told you you were crazy if you told me that I would be answering “the question” this year in France, back with my same mission board as before, and serving in the way God has led.
Yet here I am. My observations are this: God, the Eternal God, is alive and at work today in incredibly powerful ways and I have seen His hand over the last year in my life. I’m not sure why He has blessed me in such a way. Personally, I feel like I would have been the last person to choose for this job. I look back at this year’s blessings. God brought me back to France. This is where I knew I needed to be and I did not want to return to the States from Belgium when I did. But God, in His infinite wisdom, worked all for good and sent me back to the States to gain the abilities He needed for me to serve even more effectively here in France right now. I had somewhat forgotten that vow I made when I left Belgium to come back, but God didn’t forget and He orchestrated everything according to His plan in a way that shows His glory. It is His gift to me.
Another observation is that, although I have literally nothing in the world’s standards and received no tangible presents to speak of, I feel as though I am more satisfied and honestly feel like the richest person in the world. There is a real joy in being exactly where God wants you, following the incredible doors He opens for you even when they may lead you beyond your “comfort zone”, and resting in His compassion and true joy. The trappings of this world —well, “trapping” is an excellent choice of words— they are indeed a trap to distract us from where true value lies. I am happier now than at any other point in my life just resting, with nothing, every day in God’s arms. I am “blessed beyond all measure”.
Finally, my observation on attaining this new echelon, is that life is short. How many times I have been asked “the question” over the years when I didn’t appreciate it? Looking back, it took me far too many years to realize that. Time moves so quickly and we are just here for a momentary blip of eternity. Cherish every moment and every relationship. Even those tiny seemingly insignificant moments or contacts may have an impact for generations. It seems like just yesterday that my daughter fit into my arm. It seems like yesterday I was in Bible college in Oregon. It seems like just yesterday I was a child of 5 celebrating my birthday when Dad asked the dreaded “question”. How I squandered those times! I wish I had taken the time to savor each moment! Life transcends all physical things. It is those special moments and relationships where God’s goodness is reflected that matter. I think of that joy of laughing uncontrollably with tears running down your cheeks while taking selfies with my daughter. I think of the times we spend exploring and traveling together. I think of the satisfaction in helping others in some way. I think of the joy of seeing “the weak made strong” when God grants success as you walk through a strange task. Even the difficult times of failure are to be savored as God somehow transforms them into a foundation for His great plan. The special conversations with people, the moments with friends, the presence of family even far away, the fellowship of the church family, the encouragement of others; each are moments to enjoy as God’s gifts. Whether we feel they are good times or bad times, every moment is a gift from God to be savored and cherished.
So, family and friends, I now look forward to that once dreaded question. Ask away! I look forward to many more years when I can finally pause to give thanks for that very moment, and answer with how I have observed God’s hand at work through yet another year. What are your observations on obtaining your echelon in life?
“And we know that God works all things for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”Romans 8:28
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”Psalm 90:12, 14