According to the most recent report (2011) by the World Health Organization, the average male in the United States lives to the ripe old age of 76 years. That is almost 10 years longer than in 1960. Now I realize that not everyone will live to be this age. That is the average – some will live longer and some will die much younger. The Word of God makes it very clear that our life is like a vapor (James 4) – here today and gone tomorrow. King David of Old Testament times stated that he realized “that there is but a step between me and death.”
Not long after I turned thirty-eight years young (yes – I am still young), I resigned the pastorate of New Life Baptist Church in upstate New York. I had pastored there for nine wonderful years. Due to several mitigating circumstances (that is for another post), I felt it best that I step away from full-time ministry. A young preacher friend of mine called and asked me some questions concerning my decision. I remember telling him the following: “Nathan, I am thirty-eight years old. I consider this to be the halftime in my life. The average man in the US lives to be somewhere around 76. There are some areas in my life that I need to make adjustments before I start the second half.”
I remember watching an amazing football game in 1993 in which was to become known as The Comeback. The teams were the Buffalo Bills and the Houston Oilers. It was playoff football and I was expecting a good game. By halftime, the game looked to be all but over as the Oilers were putting a beat down on the Bills with the score 28-3, At the start of the second half, it got worse for the Bills as the Oilers scored again making it 35-3. It was at that point that the comeback started. The rest of the game featured the Bills recovering from that 32-point deficit to win in overtime, 41–38, and it remains the largest comeback in NFL history. It is widely regarded to be one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.
Recently, I finished reading the book “Half Time” by Bob Buford. I picked up the book for $1 at a thrift store and it was an interesting read. In the book, he mentions that every one has a “halftime” moment in their life. The time varies for each individual but it is a time period that everyone goes through. A time in which much thinking is done about the path that has already been trod (1st half) and pondering and/or changing the upcoming path (2nd half). We have spent a considerable amount of time in my halftime making much-needed adjustments. My halftime is about over as I have pondered and changed some things in my life as I enter the 2nd half. Next month, my family and I will be moving to southern Jersey where I will be assisting Pastor Jim Fish (my father-in-law) at Kingsway Baptist Church there in Mickleton. Although I am still making adjustments (and will for the rest of my life), there are a few areas of my life in the future that are non-negotiable:
1) Time with my wife – my marriage to Teya is the most important ministry and leadership role I fulfill and one I will not neglect for anything. This relationship is the most important I have in this world other than my relationship with God. I aim to spend a lot of time loving her in the 2nd half
2) Time with my children – God gave four children to my wife and me. It is my aim to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We only have them for a short time on loan from God – I aim to spend a lot of time loving them in the 2nd half.
3) Ministry re-focus – God gives a ministry to a man or a woman for the sake of reaching people and making a difference in the their lives. I do love people and have invested in people over the years. However, all too often I have equated success in the number of people I have reached or influenced, often at the expense of other relationships. In the 2nd half, I aim to reach and influence any and everyone God wants me to…and I will be satisfied with that.
There are some other personal adjustments that I have made and I am sure I will continue to do so as the 2nd half of my life begins next month. Oh, I don’t know that I have an entire 2nd half to “play” my life out. And neither do you. It might be that I am in the closing minutes of the 4th quarter. I’ll leave that part of the planning up to Him. It’s game time!