I remember the spring when my older brother and his best friend graduated from high school… and thinking to myself that they were old. I was a young fourteen at the time.
Many of my teen readers will relate to this feeling (as well as premature feelings that they are getting “old”). I say premature, because no teenager or twenty-something is old.
No thirty-something is old either. Right??
Just say yes.
I confess that turning thirty has been a somewhat tough pill to swallow. Me? Thirty? The girl who still wears her hair in a side braid? The girl who still gets mistaken for a college student?
Yes, that’s me. And thirties probably won’t change that. Well, the side braid at least.
This new benchmark made me curious about what life had looked like for biblical characters entering their thirties. (Even if thirties are not your thing right now, read on. There’s something for you here too.)
A quick study made me realize I’m in good company. Very good company.
A birthday is a beginning.
Any birthday is really a beginning. It is a blessing, a gift, another year entrusted to us.
For three men in Bible times, this could not have been illustrated more clearly than when they reached their thirtieth year. For them, it wasn’t an ending. It was a graduation.
Most of us probably know Joseph’s story. He was Jacob’s favorite son whose brothers sold him into slavery at the age of seventeen (Genesis 37). Things grew progressively worse (if that even seems possible). He was unfairly accused by Potiphar’s wife and thrown into prison (Genesis 39:19-20).
During his time in prison, Joseph interpreted the dream of the then-imprisoned chief butler who returned the favor by forgetting him for the next two years.
But then Pharaoh had dreams that none of his wise men could interpret. The chief butler, now reinstated into the king’s service, remembered a prisoner who had been able to tell him the meaning of his own dream and recommended Joseph to Pharaoh.
Thirteen years after being betrayed by his brothers, Joseph’s life finally did a 180.
At the ripe “old” age of 30, Joseph found himself interpreting the king of Egypt’s dream, not because of his own wisdom, but because of the power of God.
Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 41:46 NKJV)
The result? Pharaoh promoted him from head prisoner to the second in command of Egypt (Genesis 41:40). This status positioned him to save Egypt and ultimately his estranged family from starvation.
Not too shabby.
When we think of David, we think “man after God’s heart” (Acts 13:22) and the shepherd boy who slew the giant Goliath (I Samuel 17). We remember him as a famous king of Israel and the infamous lover of Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11).
We don’t think of the years he lived as a hunted man. After his mountain-top experiences of slaying the giant and becoming a hero in battle, King Saul grew jealous of this young upstart who had the potential to threaten his throne. Time and time again, he tried to kill David.
Nearly overnight, David went from a favored hero to a nomad. Though the prophet Samuel had anointed him to be Israel’s next king (1 Samuel 16:13), David probably wondered when or if that promise would ever be realized.
But God never forgets His promises (2 Timothy 2:13). Saul and his sons fell in battle against the Philistines, and ultimately, David became king.
David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. (2 Samuel 5:4 NKJV)
He had to wait thirty years to get there, but God had been preparing David for a reign that would last the rest of his life.
Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age… (Luke 3:23a)
This one gives me goosebumps. My Lord started his earthly ministry in his thirties – a ministry that would last only a few years but impact eternity.
Praise the Lord my worth in God’s eyes is not determined by any merits or achievements of my own! Still, you and I as believers are called to be workmen for the Lord (Ephesians 2:9). The challenge for us is to be good stewards of the abilities and resources God’s given us. Not to squander them. But to multiply them for the the Lord’s glory and work.
What’s important is not the amount of time we have been given, but what we do with it.
Time is Like a river.
For our birthday, my twin brother and I are kayking our favorite river – the Weeki Wachee.
It’s truly one of my favorite things to do, and every time I navigate the familiar bends, I see something new.
Age is like that. Each phase holds new highs and lows. New smiles and new tears.
I turn this new leaf with a certain reluctantness, yes, but also a quiet expectation. Of course, I don’t think I will stand before a king like Joseph (let alone become royalty like David) or start a great earthly ministry like Jesus, but I do believe this new decade holds new opportunities. What will I do with the ones God gives me?
And whether you’re fourteen, eighteen, twenty-something, thirty or beyond, what will you do with the ones God gives you?