Knowing Less and Knowing More

September 1, 2002

KNOWING LESS AND KNOWING MORE by Ray Pritchard It is no secret that in less than a month I will celebrate my 50th birthday. Even as I write these words, I think to myself, “Is celebrate the right word?” But I’m smiling to myself as I ask the question. Yes, of course, celebrate is the right word. Outside the sun is shining, it’s a beautiful day in Oak Park, I just got off the phone with my wife Marlene and we talked about going bike riding later today. And football season is only a few days away. I commented in a sermon a few months ago that I have been mentioning my 50th birthday every few weeks this year, which proves that it is on my mind and I’m trying to come to grips with it, but I haven’t yet so the sermons are like massive group therapy from the pulpit. But it isn’t as serious as that. Not by a long shot. A few days ago I stumbled upon a personal insight, one that came to me while I was speaking at a Love INC conference in Minneapolis. I more or less said what I wrote in the first two paragraphs above, and then the following observation seemed to follow naturally: As I reach the anniversary of my first half-century of life, I realize that I know less now than I did 30 years ago. Back then, in my college days, I knew a whole lot of stuff about almost everything. I could discourse confidently on any number of topics, primarily because I never let the lack of factual information stand in the way of my opinions. That’s not such a bad thing, nor is it unique in the sense that most young people feel that they could conquer the world if given half a chance–and a car with a full tank of gas. Life has a way of bringing us all down a few notches. A few days ago I read the somber words of Ecclesiastes 7:2, “You learn more at a funeral than at a feast–after all, that’s where we’ll end up. We might discover something from it” (from The Message). Hard times teach us far more than good times, even though good times are more fun than hard times. Looking back, I am very aware of God’s work in my life during what seemed to be some very dark moments. So I know less today than I knew 30 years ago. But what I know, I really know. I have a handful of bedrock convictions that cannot be shaken. God is good, life is short, every day is a gift, people matter more than things, fame is fleeting, this world is not my home, and even hard times are meant for my benefit. I also know that He’s God and I’m not, which is an excellent reason to celebrate life as I roll toward the big five-O.

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