Friday, September 11, 2009

Had It Not Been--A Personal Reflection

If the LORD had not been on our side—let Israel say—the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away.

                        Psalm 124.1,4-5

From Then to Now

Today’s a sort of milestone for me, my fiftieth birthday. It sounds a little old, but other than the random ache here and there, I don’t feel any older than I’ve ever felt—which is to say, I’m still stuck somewhere between 28 and 32 in my head. Not such a bad place to be, I guess.

Numbers are artificial and arbitrary. We all know that. They’re only as significant as we want them to be. That’s why birthdays have never been such a big deal for me, and why I’ve always felt a little embarrassed when people who care for me treat it like an occasion. But, for some reason, 50 feels different. It seems to call for a bit of reckoning, stopping for a second to look back on where I spent all those years—blessings I’ve received, people I’ve loved, challenges I’ve met, and disappointments I've accepted.

When I go back as far as I can remember and retrace my steps from then to now, Psalm 124 rings in my ears: Had it not been for the Lord on my side, I don’t know where I’d be. For half a century, day after day and minute after minute, He has held me in His hand. He’s guided me to wonderful places. He’s shielded me from harm. And He’s lifted me out of one mess after another. He has loved me more than anyone I’ve ever known, and (as we say where I come from) He's been better to me than I've been to myself. He has tested my faith and confidence, but never has He failed me.

My grandmother used to tell me when we follow Christ, “it gets sweeter as the days go by.” I don’t think I fully understood that ‘til now.

How I Got Over

It’s a blessing to say in 50 years, things never grew so desperate to require the sort of super-miraculous intervention others experience. But that’s a miracle all by itself, because the last-half century has been extremely tumultuous for everyone who’s survived it. When I think of how many brushes with danger came my way simply by living through these times, I know my goodness didn’t protect me, nor did anything I possess shelter me. I encountered the same traps of addiction and depression, self-hatred and disease, greed and cynicism that snared so many. But I was spared. Had it not been for the Lord on my side…

I drafted several posts for today, all of which ran too long and said too little. So I’m through—almost. But it wouldn’t be a Tim party without a gospel number, and in light of what this birthday has given me, I’m pulling out all the stops with Yolanda Adams’s full-throttle cover of Aretha Franklin’s full-throttle cover of the Mahalia Jackson classic, “How I Got Over.” It’s fast, rowdy, and it rocks. (Yes, my friends, prepare yourselves—we’re going deep.) But I’ve not chosen it for those reasons. I’ve chosen it because no other song I know better expresses the wonder, gratitude, and hope I feel today. My birthday gift to all of you:

How I Got Over 

How I got over

How I got over

You know, my soul looks back and wonders

How I got over

Just as soon as I see Jesus

The Man Who made me free

The Man Who bled and suffered

He died for you and me

I’m gonna thank Him because He brought me

I’m gonna thank Him because He taught me

I’m gonna thank Him because He kept me

I’m gonna thank Him ‘cause He never left me

I’m gonna sing, “Hallelujah!”

I’m gonna shout, “Trouble’s over!”

I’m gonna thank Him for all He’s done for me

How I got over…

I’m gonna wear a diadem

In the New Jerusalem

I’m gonna walk the streets of gold

In the homeland of the soul

I’m gonna view the host in white

Who traveled both day and night

Coming up from every nation

On the way to the great coronation

I’m gonna sing, “Hallelujah!”

I’m gonna shout, “Trouble’s over!”

I’m gonna thank Him for all He’s done for me

How I got over…


Cuboid Master said...

Dear, beautiful soul! I pray this day continues to unfold as a day of love and rejoicing. Your unfailing trust in the Almighty has seen you through every trial and joy to this auspicious day! Hallelujah, my friend, that your love for Him and His only begotten Son has set you free! The most important lesson of this life is to have reliance on Him and direct your every moment to His glorification. You got the lesson, Tim. You have it! Rejoice for that gift! All your days will be sanctified knowing He is carrying you in His arms! Bless you, dear Tim. Bless you always!

Anonymous said...

Happy (Belated) Birthday!

Tim said...

Thanks, Jake. Kinda of loving the 50 thing, I must say--although Walt hates hearing it. It makes him feel "old." (When people ask how he is, he says, "37 with x years experience...")

I always love hearing from you, my friend. Have a great day!


PS: Are you the Jake on the S-F FB page? If you are, by all means, send over a friend request (if you want to, of course). If not, you can find me: Tim Wolfe...

PPS: Yeah, I know, just a couple months back I poked fun at FB. I get it now. But I'm not Tweeting! ;-)