A few months ago I celebrated my 32nd birthday. My parents made their first trip to visit me in Germany and we enjoyed traditional German food and plenty of sight-seeing around the province of Hessen.
As messages of congratulations flew in from friends all over the world, I noted the occasional hint of awkwardness or pity surrounding my ever-increasing years on earth. “The thirties aren’t so bad,” some would say. “Twenty-eight again, then?” mused a colleague. And I wondered, why do we do that? Why do we insist on marking another birthday with commiseration instead of celebration?
All too often age becomes a defining factor in our culture, and it even infiltrates our churches: the events we are allowed to attend, the ministries we have the opportunity to lead, the friendship group we are expected to be a part of. But that is not God’s design.
At aged 16 years, Timothy believed under the teaching of the Apostle Paul and went on to spend his twenties accompanying Paul on his second missionary journey.
Moses was 80 years old when God spoke to him through the Burning Bush, calling him to confront Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.
As a teenager, Esther was summoned before King Xerxes and became his new Queen. Through her courage and obedience, the Jewish nation was saved from a plot to destroy them.
Abraham and Sarah birthed a nation at a combined age of nearly 200 years, despite Sarah having already journeyed through menopause. Her body was incapable of conceiving, yet God’s plans and purposes could not be thwarted by her physical state.
The prophet, Samuel, was just a boy when he entered the service of God in the temple. He would later anoint David to be king of Israel in his latter years on earth.
The Bible assures us that there is no ‘prime’ age in God’s Kingdom. Each season acts as preparation for the next, and God decides when we are ready and to where He will lead us.
God does not consider our age when He calls us, we do that. We use it as an excuse or a barrier or a (dis)qualifying factor, not Him. Our age never hinders us from what God has prepared for us. His timing is perfect; He is never in a hurry, but He is never late.
Our worth & relevance is based on so much more than just the number of candles on our birthday cake. Each generation has something to learn, each generation has something to teach (Psalm 78). Our age should be a celebration of sustained life, in all it’s fullness; every stage, every season.
I would not be where I am now if it were not for the many years, the many mistakes, the many lessons, the many experiences, the many opportunities that have come before. As I reflect, I am confident that I could not have faced this season any sooner, I simply wasn’t ready. I have lived through seasons that others my age only dream about, but, equally, there are experiences and opportunities that my peers have faced or enjoyed that I have not yet had the chance to sample.
However, life is not a competition, or a race; it is not to be compared or envied, it is to be enjoyed. You only get one chance at it, so don’t waste it. Savour it. Be present. And celebrate the journey that God has led you on.
We can do nothing to change our date of birth, but we can be intentional about pursuing God’s heart; about studying God’s Word and exercising our faith; about making ourselves available to serve and lead as God directs us. Our age is rarely an accurate reflection of our maturity, our faith, or our capacity. Resist allowing yourself to be defined by such – by yourself or by others.
I’m not too young to outwork what God has poured into me. I’m not too old to receive God’s best, either. He had purpose in choosing the day he called me out of my mother’s womb, and he continues to prepare me, position me, and propel me forward, for such a time as this.
For, maybe, the first time ever, I proudly announced my 32 years on all my social media accounts. I wanted to celebrate my ageing, not cringe at it. I chose to share my gratitude for the wisdom, growth, experience and life that each birthday represents. I do not long for former days, because each one taught me something new and brought me a step closer to where I am now. I love where I am now. But I also hold great anticipation for all that is still to come. God’s only just getting started…