I can clearly remember a conversation my wife and I had on the morning of my fortieth birthday. In a very serious tone I turned to her as we sat at the kitchen table and asked, “Does this mean that I have to grow up?” And she looked up into my eyes, flashed that wonderfully adorable and slightly mischievous smile and replied “No!” It is interesting to note that following a few financially tough years that ensued after that conversation, we experienced some of the best times of our family's lives as our kids grew up before our eyes, our church was thriving and the joy and peace of the Lord was our constant companion.
Then came the time in my life where I knew that the question I had asked on my fortieth birthday definitely had a different answer! It was on a fateful evening while standing in the power tool aisle in the Garden Department at the South Tulsa Home Depot when I suddenly knew that any of my childish ways had to go. It was the night I received the initial shocking report of what the three brain scans indicated as the source of my wife’s increasing forgetfulness.
After talking with the nurse from our doctor’s office, with tears welling up in my eyes, I knew that I had to get out of the store (even though I was still on the clock!) and find a place to be alone so as to somehow make sense out of what I had just heard. It was when I sought the refuge out in the cold, standing within the solitude of the outside storage racks that life suddenly changed and I knew that it was time to grow up! Within seconds I understood that every decision from that point on could have life-changing effects concerning Piper’s health and the longevity of her life.
As I look back now, I am so thankful for the Lord’s directing us to go to Bible School in Tulsa, Oklahoma at that particular stage in our lives. I really don’t think that I would have made it through those first few years following that phone call that night without the support and the implantation of God’s Word that I received there. That foundation is what helped me through the totally unsuspected changes in family relationships that would occur when we returned home as well as the roller-coaster experiences we encountered with our former network of Christian friends. The Apostle Paul wasn’t kidding when he said that “all things are become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV)
I Corinthians 13:11 tells us that “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. (But) When I became a man, I gave up my childish ways.” (Modern King James Version) As I read this over the weekend, I suddenly became aware of the many times that the writer points to himself by speaking of actions that he took that were his alone to do! At that point I understood that I AM totally responsible and accountable for my own thoughts, words and corresponding actions. And at the same time, I am NOT responsible or accountable for the thoughts, words or actions of others… especially when they may be negative and directed toward me!
When we returned home in 2009 and began to get blasted from relatives concerning the decisions we believed that Papa God was leading us to take, I quickly took into account that night under the cover in the back of the outdoor garden center when I KNEW that it was time to make and stand up with the mature, studiously researched and well thought out decisions under the direction of the Holy Spirit in me. Looking back now, I find it comforting to see that the great majority of those initial decisions worked out for the best for Piper and I. It is exciting to see how things fell into place, how doors opened up and how the favor of God has preceded us each step of the way!
And as far as the negative remarks and strained relationships that they caused, well… I have come to realize that they are not my responsibility. Besides, anything that I tried to do to correct the situation tended to fall on deaf ears anyway. Viewing it from a distance at this point in time, I can see that things are getting better. I believe that my stepping away and (for the most part) keeping my mouth shut, opened the door for Papa God to step in and work on our behalf in ways that I never could have accomplished on my own!
My job has been to step up and into the mature shoes that God has fitted just for me! I think that this could also be said for you as well! There comes a time when we must make the decision and take the actions necessary to “put away childish ways” (KJV) and become the man or women that Papa God has so graciously called and provided for us to be! Where do you stand today? Have you “left those infant ways for good?” (The Message Bible) It took a very difficult and traumatic experience for me to fully realize the necessity and magnitude of that decision. So, I would encourage you to act now – BEFORE – you are forced into it! Don’t put it off into your mid-fifties as I did!
Have a great week! Make the right decisions by staying in tune to God’s Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or When am I expecting to GROW UP and BE today?”