May Our Reach Always Exceed Our Grasp!

jhardy

Well, I’ve finally done it. I knew this day was going to come but still… I can’t believe it’s finally here. Yes, today I celebrate the Big 6-0. You read that right, today I turn 60 years old. My kids have been telling me for years how old I was but today, finally, I agree with them! As I was growing up and busy raising my family I looked out into the distance and honestly saw 40 years old as “almost getting old” and 50 years old as, well, “definitely old”. As I grew older and passed that 40-year milestone, the closer I got to 50, I began to see it differently. I re-cast 50 as “almost getting old” and by extension, that made 60 the new “definitely old” signpost. So today there’s no more doubt in my mind; at 60 years, I’m now officially OLD!

But as my husband was teasing me this morning, since all my health problems and chronic pain leave me feeling more like I’m 80, my chronological age of 60 doesn’t look so bad after all! I love to poke fun at myself but to be absolutely honest with you right now, as I’ve been thinking and praying over my new birthday status, I feel three main things: grateful, hopeful, and introspective.

I feel grateful because I know Jesus, that God chose to love me and extend to me His invitation to salvation. I’m aware of so many people dealing with incredible pain; my heart aches because most of them are going through these devastating things alone, with no real hope for the future.

Right now, there’s a family huddled around the hospital bed of a 5-year-old boy who’s dealing with stage-4 cancer. And they don’t know Jesus.

And there’s a man who’s facing a life without his beloved wife, who he just buried. And he doesn’t know Jesus.

There are mothers and daughters who have such pain between them they haven’t spoken in years, grown women struggling with the life-long
ramifications of childhood sexual abuse, mothers and fathers living in their cars or on the streets, doing all they can to feed their kids… the list goes on and on.

All over this world there are many people dealing with things they are ill-equipped to handle, just getting through it the best they can. And they don’t know Jesus.

Yes, why God chose me is something I can’t understand because believe me, there’s nothing particularly special about me that would explain His love for me. There’s no more value in me, no greater worth, than there is in any other person, so why He drew my heart to His remains a mystery. So, I’m praying for others to come to know Jesus like I do, to experience the peace that comes from knowing He will carry them through anything that happens and will bring good out of even the hardest circumstances.

If you’re reading this and you aren’t confident that you know Jesus personally; you’ve never asked God to forgive you of your sins, and you don’t know that when the day comes for you to die, you’ll live forever in the presence of Jesus… then I’m praying for you, too.

God loves you and sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay the debt you owe because of your sin. Jesus took God’s anger over your sins and mine on Himself, and He died to save us. Then God raised Him from the dead to prove that the debt we owed for our sins was paid in full but you must accept this precious gift of life in order for this salvation to be yours. So today, I’m praying God will lead you to salvation so you can have, not only hope for this life, but also a genuine hope for the future.

Today I feel grateful, but I also feel hopeful because, as I’m constantly being reminded every day, this body I was given at birth is rapidly falling apart. Along with all of us who know Jesus, I’m definitely looking forward to having a new body in Heaven with no more sickness and no more pain. The fact is: the longer I live the more my heart longs for Heaven. And now, at age 60, I know that my remaining time on earth is limited to a small number of years, so Heaven is getting closer to me every day.

There are three main reasons I’m looking forward to Heaven.

One: I’m going to see Jesus! I’m going to sit at His feet, learning directly from Him, and I’m going to be a part of a huge choir, made up of people from every culture on the earth, all singing praises with one voice to the Lamb Who was slain and Who is alive again forever! Can you even imagine what that’s going to be like?

Two: I’m going to take in the incredible sights of the New Jerusalem God’s going to build: the pearly gates, the crystalline walls with their 12 uniquely-colored stone foundations, the transparent gold of the streets, the crystalline River of Life flowing out of the Throne of God, and the central garden paradise with its trees full of healing and satisfying fruit… all of God’s creativity and lush opulence distilled into the pinnacle of His architectural prowess. It’s going to be a jaw-dropping sight to behold!

Three: I’m going to be surrounded by saints, all washed clean in the blood of Jesus. There’ll be no more doctrinal divisions, no more relational conflict and pain, no more sin for any of us to deal with… just complete unity as the collective Bride of Christ. I’m going to see all the loved ones who have gone on before me in what will be the best family reunion ever!

Seeing Jesus face-to-face with a new, glorified body that’s free from pain and illness, walking through the streets of the Holy City, seeing my loved ones again, and worshipping God in complete unity with all the saints? I get goose pimples just thinking about it!

But today, in addition to feeling grateful and hopeful, I’m also feeling introspective because I know my remaining days are relatively few. The older I get, the more I pray the words from Psalm 90:12, “Teach me to number my days that I may apply my heart to wisdom”. Since I have only a few years left on this earth I want to make them count. When I die I want to hear those precious words from my God, “Well done, good and faithful servant…. enter into the joy of your Master”. (Matthew 25:21)

Paul displayed this attitude when he said in Philippians 3:13-14, “Not that I have already obtained it (the resurrection from the dead) or have already become fully mature, but I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul made it clear he was never complacent, thinking he had “arrived” spiritually. He was always reaching out for more maturity, more completeness in Christ, for God’s will to be more fully done through him.

Oswald Chambers echoed this same passion when he succinctly stated, “Never let your grasp exceed your reach”. In other words, never let your current state of maturity and Christlikeness be enough, always make sure you’re reaching out for more… instead, let your reach exceed your grasp.

Paul also said in Philippians 4:11-13, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I’m in…to have abundance or to suffer need…” There’s a BIG difference between being content and being complacent. Contentment is being satisfied with whatever circumstances God in His sovereignty has allowed for me, while complacency means I’m satisfied with the current state of my maturity and I’m unwilling to extend myself to push for more. This is the one area in which it’s a good thing to never be satisfied!

So today on my 60th birthday, my prayer for myself and for all of us who know Jesus is: God, teach us to number our days so that our reach always exceeds our grasp!