“Your left eye has changed substantially,” my optometrist told me after my eye exam. “You’ll need new glasses.”
Only a year earlier, I had had cataract surgery, but in recent months, I’d difficulty reading my computer, and my vision blurred often. Now I knew why.
I chose new frames, black ones, with a black and white checkered strip across the top. “Ezra, do you notice anything different?” I asked my five-year old grandbean on his next visit. He squinted up at me.
“Yes,” he said, as though I’d asked a silly question. His sigh seemed to say, “Why ask me when you know this?” He answered anyway. “You have a finish line across your forehead.” Then he resumed playing, unbothered by my laughter.
Little Ezra spoke a truth he didn’t realize. Every human being has a finish line across their forehead, one some of us will reach sooner than later. “We are as grass,” the Bible says in several places, “fresh in the morning, faded and withered by evening.”
A few days ago, I had an email conversation with a precious friend. She’d told me earlier she wanted to write a book. I had encouraged her; she has much to share. But now she wrote, “I’ve decided to downgrade my goal for writing,” adding that she will likely only write for her daughters.
I pondered her words, my own goals, and our similar ages. “We’re both reaching for Heaven,” I wrote back, peering at my computer screen from under my plastic finish line, “closer to that than the days when the sky stretched before us and the possibilities seemed endless. I’ve had to rethink my own goals, too.”
Will I ever finish the many books I have in my own files, waiting for compilation, editing, and publishing? If I portioned out a reasonable lifetime of, say, around, 90 (I’m optimistic – both my parents lived till their mid-nineties) how much time each day must I devote to completing them? More than I have, I know. And how many even more important aspirations would I have to ignore?
As the years fly, it becomes important to not only downsize our belongings, but to revise our goals. My friend added this gem to our conversation, gleaned from a book she’s reading. “Developing a process of becoming who you imagine being is more transformative and lasting than just keeping your eye on the prize and doubling down to get there.”
Our son-in-law Kendall said something like that in one of his sermons. I’ve never forgotten it. “It’s never too late to start to become the person you want to be when you’re old.”
What do you want to be when you’re old? Start developing that process now. One day, count on it, we will awake to a true finish line. Our days of “becoming” will be over. My question to myself these days? Whatever other goals I hold dear, am I becoming closer to, and more like Jesus? And if I forget, when I look in the mirror, my glasses remind me.