52!

There are 52 weeks in a year. Most of them drag on and on, but we never seem to have enough time. 

The number 52 is never the sum of proper divisors of any number. . . Whatever that means.

There are 52 cards in a deck . . . I've never played with a full one. 

There are 52 keys on the piano . . . but you only need six to play "chopsticks."

In the arts world, September 23 is a big date. The Phantom of the Opera was first published on 9/23/09. On 9/23/62 The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts opened in New York City. And, regrettably,  on 9/23/80 Bob Marley performed his final concert. It might interest you to know that on 9/23 Mickey Rooney, Ray Charles, and the BOSS Bruce Springstien were born. 

My wife, Lorilise, tells me that 9/23 is the exact middle. It has an even number of hours and minutes of sunlight and darkness, it is the last day of summer.  

Perhaps less important or significant to all of this, on 9/23/1963  - 52 years ago - I was born. 

You may not know this but my parents, after two miscarriages, had been told they would not be able to have another child. One December Sunday morning my "big" sister Karol was asked by a deacon of the church my father was serving what she wanted for Christmas. In her self-assured three year old way, she told him she was praying for a little brother. That deacon was my mother's physician, Dr. Phillips. My mother told me that he looked her up that Sunday morning and told her that if she was willing to try again, he would support that effort. Nine months later, I was born - Upside down and backwards! As my mother would find out this was only the beginning of the pain I would bring doing things my way.  

My way is most always the hard way. My way appears to be easy, but actually takes a lot of "backstage" effort. My way is to walk slowly (my friend Pastor Mike calls me a mosier), listen closely, and try to laugh off all criticism. My way is almost always the long way around the horn, mostly because I don't like straight lines. My way appears to be a "life of the party guy," but in reality I prefer a quiet place with a few friends. My way has most often been wrong, but I serve a God of grace and mercy.

When I lived my life completely my way, I cared only for personal gains and career goals. Then one day I reflected on a life well lived. When my grandfather, Rev. Floyd Jent died God used his life to show me just how selfish my way of life had been. Not long after that I left my way and started to walk on Jesus' path. Those who have had a closer view of my life's journey know that I've often stepped off that path, but at every turn Jesus has gently led me forward. It was Jesus who said, 

 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done." (Matthew 16:24-27 NIV)

52 is not old enough to begin giving life advice . . . I think Mark Twain said that right does not come until you are 70. But if you'll indulge me for a minute, I'd like to share the real secret to life as I've seen it. It is to understand that your way is not the right way. ("My Way" made for a popular Sinatra song, but that is just a song.) God's way, on the other hand, IS the right way. Only when we stop rebelling against God's way can we end our struggle and settle into the groove of walking in His purpose and His will. For me that was when my life truly began; I became a better husband, father, neighbor, employer, employee, and person. I ended all paths that led my way, and began the spiritual journey that went Jesus' way.

So, at 52 - let me say. Stop fighting and start following!