30 Going on 100

Posted on April 1, 2012


I have irrevocably crossed a line in American society. I am no longer one of the worshiped young ones. I am now offically what my friends have been calling me for years: OLD. The problem being I just arrived at the headquarters of JAARS, the aviation branch of Wycliff. And this place is full of truly seasoned people. The only ones without grey hair don’t have any hair. I came from a setting of college students to a place where missionaries go to “retire.”

This made me wonder: what is old? How do we measure it? We often base it off our expected time of death. My Dad is always saying no male in our family has lived past 72, so he does not really expect to. In that case I am a mere decade away from half way. Looking at the guys here in the shop, some of them are older than that and still working on airplanes to serve missionary work around the world.

Then this week there was an accident. A pilot who was new to the area attempted a landing at our little airport here. Something went wrong with his landing and he decided to fly around again. The best our unofficial guesses could figure out was that he turned away from the wind and lost control of his aircraft. It hit the ground in a patch of trees 50 feet from an on-center daycare. The only one in the aircraft, no one but the pilot was hurt. He died of his injuries shortly after the first responders got there.

He was really old the day he died, no matter whether he was 25 or 85. The day you die is the oldest day of your life regardless of the calendar.I told my wife that day that I wanted to plan to live to 100. Not because I fear death, but I need a target. If I think I only have 40 more years I might get lax and think that taking care of myself is not important. These “old” guys here might still be pretty young, and considering we don’t know when our time is up, I might be the old one. But, I want to live for long term effectivity. If I believe I won’t be around long I will think short term. I have a lot of gospel potential left in my life, and I intend to maximize it.

You see, we need to be thinking radically longer term. I’m talking five generations. We need a plan to prepare and train leaders generations after we are gone. Why is it we are sending missionaries to Ethiopia when Philip sent in the first evangelist 2000 years ago? We have failed to train the next generation; we are content with faux Christianity, like the suglasses from Mexico. They look the same at first but before long the paint starts to peal. The paint is pealing on our appearance-focused faith.

I want to be a disciple maker maker, one who builds the faith into others so that they build it into others. So that it becomes a legacy of transformation and redemption and radical love, not just making sure they look good and conform to a few behavioral ideals. And for that, I need time.