PERSPECTIVE: ‘I’ve learned . . .’
This past week, I passed a major milestone of life. I am now eligible for early Social Security! Because of the large debt and near insolvency of Social Security, I intend to keep contributing rather than draining the pot at the end of the rainbow. How did I celebrate? I got up early and “wogged” two miles. That’s a new one, you say. What in the world is wogging? My definition states, “A form of exercise solely for older people whereby they jog at such a slow pace younger people could walk faster!” It is an incontrovertible fact that I am a tortoise, not a hare.
It has been a long journey from the small private hospital in Ponca City where my mother, on the Wednesday before Easter, gave birth to a bouncing red-haired baby boy. The bounce is quite lower and the red hair is long gone. Gray is a far more fashionable color for someone on the verge of Social Security.
Turning 62 does cause one to pause and reflect a bit. Admittedly, I have begun to realize the invincibility of youth has given way to the reality that life on Earth is short. In the past few months, that fact has become abundantly clear as I have attended funerals of two wonderful and cherished friends my age. Therefore, I am convinced it is far better to fill your years with life than your life with years. I want my remaining days to count for my Lord more than ever and my every effort to contribute to the work of the Kingdom of my Lord and Savior.
One of the great advantages of age is the understanding of what really matters. Paul prayed for the believers in Philippi that their “love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best (really matters)…” While age does not automatically make you wise about the things that really count, a person who walks with Christ daily will discover a growing sense of what is real and what is fake—of what matters and what doesn’t. A lifelong walk with the Lord will yield an abundant harvest of wisdom.
I have experienced this very truth. I have learned that Polla, my children and family are far more important than stuff. It has been interesting watching people who have lost everything during the tragic tornados that struck Oklahoma and others all the way to the Atlantic. I have heard no one say they wished their house, cars and worldly possessions would had been saved in exchange for a family member. No! All say something like this, “Stuff can be replaced. We still have each other, and we can pick up and move on.” They are right. Family is far more important than stuff!
People matter more than projects. I am afflicted with a type A personality. In my younger years, I saw a goal and unrelentingly moved toward it. Sometimes I became highly frustrated if people did not get the vision quickly. These people were stumbling blocks who needed to be removed. Over the years, I have come to realize that people must be led, not driven. Tenacity is a virtue for any leader, and people must be given time to get the picture—to catch the vision. People are not objects to be moved, but friends to be convinced and led. The Falls Creek Campaign taught me that lesson well.
Life is a marathon, not a 100-meter sprint. Things that once raised my blood pressure don’t do so as quickly now. I understand we should live life in larger chunks. Many things given time will resolve themselves. Patience, as hard as it is to learn, becomes a golden value as one matures. God is always at work among His children. He is not on the stop watch but the eternal clock. He moves at His pace and is patient and gracious to us. His pace is perfect and mine is not.
Since I am not going to take early Social Security, even though I am qualified to do so, I plan to continue the journey of gaining knowledge and depth of insight into what really matters. I invite you, no matter what your age, to join me on the journey.
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.