I've read that the life expectancy of an American male is 74 years.
Today, July 20, 2006 is my 78th birthday.
So....I've been living on Grace for the last 4 years?
No! I've been living on Grace ever since I was born on July 20, 1928
to Julia and Woodie Wiginton!
All 5 of Mom's children were born at our home out on the farm.
Mom said that my birth was the most difficult due to my weight...
AND to the July heat (no air conditioning back then!)
My sister (born 2 yrs. after our oldest brother, Bryce) only lived for a few hours,
so she and Bryce are now in Heaven with our parents.
They taught us well, by their wonderful examples!
Hard work on our cotton and dairy farm was 'the order of the day'.
And you know what? It didn't hurt me one bit.
The GRACE of HARD WORK helped to prepare me for life!
At age 12, I accepted the GRACE of JESUS and I was saved and baptized.
This is the GREATEST step of GRACE of all.
I hope all who read this, have taken that vital step of Grace.
It's normal in your 70's to begin to think about limitations, old age and death...
but I like to think of LIFE!
Because of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection...
the end of the physical life is merely the beginning of Eternal Life.
Too often (like at class reunions), we talk more about 'looks' than 'life'....
and the latter is SO much more important!
I Samuel 16:7: "Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart."
I noticed something recently.....the word 'life' has an 'if' right in the middle of the word.
The Epistle of I John uses the word 'if' more than any other writing.
I challenge you to read this Epistle and mark where 'if' is used.
'If' is a conditional word and Great Promises follow, for example:
the 'if' of fellowship (I John 1:6-7)
II Chronicles 7:14 is the most used Scripture with the word 'if':
"If my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray, seek my face, turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and forgive their sins and will heal their land."
I don't worry about age for after all.....
worry means that we have forgotten Who is in charge!
I heard a good statement this week, "I'm too blessed to be stressed!"
This is what I call 'Comfort Comparison'....
if we compare our situation with the rest of the world...
we will find that we are MOST blessed!
In fact, we are blessed to BE a blessing....
and must NOT default our responsibility.
It helps at any age to count our blessings....more than our bruises!
I like the statement "I'm drinking from my saucer because my cup is overflowing!"
Humor also helps in life and in aging!
(This was the title of my paper on Jan. 29, 2005.....hope you enjoy it again)
Last week we received a funny e-mail from La Moyne's cousin, Max Harris.
We read it and laughed and laughed, then called him and thanked him for sending it. Thanks AGAIN Max!
Here are just a few from his e-mail:
"Don't let aging get you down....it's too hard to get back up!"
"Remember, you don't stop laughing because you grow old....
you grow old because you stop laughing!"
Just before the funeral services, the undertaker came to the elderly widow and asked, "How old was your husband?"
"He was 98" she replied, "two years older than I".
"So you're 96 years of age?" the undertaker commented.
She replied, "Hardly worth my going home, is it?"
Reporters interviewing a 104 yr. old lady asked her,
"And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?"
She simply replied, "No peer pressure!"
"My memory is not as sharp as it used to be......
and my memory is not as sharp as it used to be!"
The Apostle Paul's epitaph could be: II Timothy 4:7 (and I hope that it could be mine):
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."
I HAVE FOUGHT A GOOD FIGHT:
As Christians, we are to be:
A mind through which Christ thinks...
A heart through which Christ loves...
A voice through which Christ speaks...
A hand through which Christ helps.
I HAVE KEPT THE FAITH:
Really, faith keeps us.
Ralph Maclaren wrote:
"Faith puts God between self and circumstances and looks at them THROUGH HIM.
Christ sometimes delays His help that He may TRY our faith and QUICKEN our progress.
The boat may be covered with waves...and He sleeps on but.....
He will wake up BEFORE it sinks.
He sleeps, but never oversleeps and there is no 'too late' with Him!'
Faith is that God-given faculty which when exercised, brings the answer into plain view...
and by which the impossible things are made possible.
Faith knows God is never late and always on time!
Make sure God is the object of your faith!
I received two identical birthday cards (one was an e-card with music from our daughter Kristin (which reminded me of how beautifully Kristin plays the piano!)
The message on those cards is by Roy Lessin:
"The One Who leads you makes no mistakes...
The One Who guides you has the right directions...
The One Who counsels you has the wisest answers...
The One Who provides for you has the greatest resources...
The One Who blesses you brings the greatest joy!"
I HAVE FINISHED MY COURSE:
This does NOT mean 'retirement'....for God is never through with us!
Gary Felton in his book, 'Your Ministry's Next Chapter' wrote:
"Retirement is not a checkered flag indicating the race is over.
Instead it is the time when I can lighten my load to travel faster!
I am not retiring in order to cease working, but so that I can focus attention on my real passion for teaching, writing and preaching.
In auto racing, the experienced driver often reaches his (or her) high speeds during the final laps.
Not much gas...and tire treads are thinner...but too much at stake to COAST!"
Someone, when asked why he had NOT written his autobiography, said:
"I've seen too many people fall out on the last lap."
DON'T YOU QUIT for we have by NO means exhausted either the RESOURCES of GOD...
nor the POSSIBILITIES of our lives!
DON'T GIVE UP....DON'T GIVE IN......
even though you may GIVE OUT quicker than you used to!
Attitude is half the battle....
as a positive attitude helps to prevent negative actions and results.
Following the University of Oklahoma's loss to USC in the Championship Orange Bowl football game, Mark Clayton (outstanding football player for the University of Oklahoma) was heard to say:
"It's all about FINISHING....we didn't FINISH strong last year...and we didn't FINISH strong this year!"
Probably more games in sports are lost because of a poor finish than any other reason.
Some might say that the Apostle Paul had a poor finish because he was in jail.
So what did he do?
Much of the New Testament was written by Paul...from prison!
And John? He wrote the Book of Revelation while he was in exile on the Isle of Patmos!
Paul's future (and our's) is summed up in Verse 8:
"Henceforth there is laid up for me, a crown of righteousness which the Lord the Righteous Judge shall give me at that day...and not to me only, but unto all those who love (and long for) His appearing."
Well let me just take a moment to wish you a very Happy Birthday, with many more following. Thank you once again for an excellent article Travis. What will we be remembered for? I am right with you when you say, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept THE FAITH! Love and blessings to you both, Sharon