At the age of 20, Tom Smedley, Jesus Freak, could not think more than a week or two ahead. Part of this was his own sinful present-orientation. Part was the apocalyptic hysteria that marinated that movement.
At the age of 59, Tom Smedley, husband, father, and technical writer, completed an arduous five-year ordeal to earn his PhD. He was thinking in terms of the next 30-40 years, and of how to leverage his credibility as a proclaimer of the Gospel. His dissertation took the form of an apologia addressed to magistrates in a Muslim nation.
What made the difference? Embracing a better future. A future dominated by the elephant in the living room, the fact that Jesus is LORD over the vast universe around us as well as guru over the half-vast “universe” inside us. Inviting Jesus into your heart? Small potatoes. Religious experiences are a dime a dozen, and easily counterfeited, whether by a magic pill, or an hypnotic trance induced by a professional orator with mumbo-jumbo incantations of “every head bowed, every eye closed,” etc. BUT — if the Great King and Redeemer summons you into HIS heart, his agenda, his ongoing work, that’s an invitation you dare not refuse. The destinies of your children are at stake. So, too, are the hopes and yearnings of those around you, who wait for that specific function God created you, called you, and empowered you to do for His glory.
Today, the little birds have left the nest, and Tom mentors online college classes from his home office, while caring for his beloved demented spouse. Alzheimer’s knocked on our door 40 years ahead of schedule, but Vicky still has the superpower of lighting up his world with her smiles. He loves his work, is good at it, and willingly admits that it took him 30 years of struggling through his “day jobs” to acquire the character necessary for the responsibilities he bears today.