30 Years. 30 Lessons.

Years back I was teasing one of my big brothers in the ministry about him reaching 30 when he said, ” You’ll get here soon,” with a smirk in his face. Guess what, I have arrived. 30 years. That’s 10 950 days, 262 800 hours, 15 768 000 minutes, 946 048 000 seconds of existence on the face of this earth.

Although on a deeper level, personal growth and maturity do not exclusively come with age, personally, my way of thinking is quite different now compared to when I was 20. After failures upon failures, there are more things that I understand better now and at the same time I see with more clarity that there are still more that I can and must learn.

On a lighter note, depending on how you lived your 20’s, your 30’s will now serve as a salvage period for everything that you may have missed before. The saying 30 is the new 20 may be so true for some, and that includes me. The next decade will be literally a new chapter for those who’ll just rather move on and not wallow in the past that is irrevocable.

I now embark on this fresh journey with renewed hope and faith, believing that God’s promises hold true to those who are humble enough to commit themselves to an Almighty, good God who is more than willing to walk with us every step of the way. I look back with a sense of gratefulness and awe as to how God orchestrated the events in my life leading me to a better   understanding of Him. No, I do not speak like I already know God but I know He’s taking me from faith to faith and from glory to glory. Just like Paul, I press on to finish the race that is set before me.

I now leave you with 30 lessons that I have learned and will take in my journey through my 30’s and beyond.

1. God has to be there in the equation of life.

I cannot emphasize this enough. For believers, the importance of putting Him first is not optional, and I am not going to say mandatory because it is weak and somewhat dishonoring to God, but it is the essence of the believer’s life in Christ. When God said He knows the plan He has for us, He truly means it. It’s either we go our own way or we follow His blueprint for us.

2. Relationships are very important. 

We don’t live our life alone. Our relationships with our family and true friends must be nurtured well. The lure of the so-called success and love for temporal things can put a dint on our most precious relationships. Handle with care as they say. If we talk about good investments, you can bet that it is one of the best and most rewarding.

3. Reality of pain, suffering and death.

My lolo passed away just recently and having grown up with him together with my siblings, I can’t really describe the sense of loss I felt. It’s like a part of you was taken away. I also have my own share of other personal hurts. These undeniable realities must be acknowledged now before they catch you unprepared.

4. Reality of faith, hope and love.

God didn’t leave us without anything to hold on to in facing pain, suffering and death. These three forces are our shield and weapon in combating the negative forces that come against us. Rest assured that we are going to win if we carry these things with us.

5. Life is short. 

I’m sure everyone in the my age bracket can attest to this- time seems a lot faster now than when we were kids. I remember the good old days when we would play everything we could in the streets and the starry nights seemed to have gone on forever. But now sometimes you wish there’s 46 hours in a day to cover all that you need to do. We need to make sure that we don’t deal with petty and trivial things that will only hinder our progress because life is really short.

6. Forgiveness liberates. 

People will fail and hurt us and we will do so as well. Forgiveness is a powerful force that breaks the shackles of anger and bitterness. You don’t want to go through life carrying the whole world on your shoulders. That’s how it feels when you carry grudges in your heart. Release forgiveness to those who hurt you and seek forgiveness as well to those you hurt.

7. Personal development.

Since life is progressive, we must continually develop our skills and competencies so we can do our tasks in the highest form of excellence. Whether you’re in the corporate world, government, academe or sports, there’s a sense of satisfaction when we always outdo ourselves.

8. Health is wealth.

I’ve never been health conscious but now I realize that good health will help us achieve the things that God has placed in our hearts. Our body is the vessel through which we carry out the works of our hands. So it will pay great dividends if we take good care of our body.

9. There is a room for everybody.

When we talk about vocation or calling, one can easily be intimidated by the mere thought that others can do it better than you. But when it really comes down to it, it’s really not a question of who does it better, but who responds to the call given to him. One pastor said, and I para-phrase, ” even when others are doing it, and doing it better than me, I will continue to speak because I was called to do so. ”

10. Your lifetime companions will be filtered by your struggles.

I talked about relationships earlier but I want to zoom in on the people outside your family. People will come and go. But the true people in your life will stay. The good thing about it is that God handpicked these precious friends to be with you not only in good times but also in tough times.

11. Passion can be buried, but it won’t die.

Your passion will always be there. Maybe at some point, you’ve stopped doing those things you love because of failures, pain, disappointments, or probably because of the amount of responsibilities you carry, but if you will just look deep enough, you’ll find it there, waiting for you to wake her out of slumber.

12. Every type of self is a big no no. 

Self-centeredness, self-pity and other selfish mindset are a curse in one’s life. They don’t deserve a place in our being. They impede growth and hurt ourselves and other people as well.

13. Solitude vs. Isolation

I knew that I needed a period of time alone to process my thoughts and to hear better from God. But during that time as well  I started struggling with depression. Solitude became isolation. I can’t think of a worse emotional torture than that.

14. Worry is pointless.

Regardless of how big you think your problem is, worrying is simply useless. It doesn’t change the fact that there is a struggle and it doesn’t change the situation at all. If anything, it only saps every aspect of your life. Jesus said not to worry.

15. In your anger, do not sin.

When you reach your boiling point, it’s very hard not to get driven by anger. Once you lose control of your emotions, it will surge like a river. Depending on God’s grace is a key to overcoming anger.

16. Make a stand.

Every time you make a stand against sin, you strengthen your inner life. Every time you fall into temptation, you diminish that spiritual authority in your life. I see that the times that I was at my best was when I knew I was doing God’s will and making a stand for righteousness even when I was alone.

17. To pull back from a fight is not necessarily a loss cause.

In chess, you don’t always attack. There are positional moves that you have to play in order to set yourself up for a bigger finishSometimes, walking away from a fight is the right thing to do. Maybe God wants to prune you first or probably He want to show you that it’s not worth fighting for.

18. Break away.

I find this amazing. In basketball, Nowitzki and Nash were good playing together in Dallas. But then Nash moved to Phoenix and went on to win the MVP award in back to back seasons. Not to be outdone, Nowitzki bagged the award on the third season after they parted ways. If the “place” has become too small for you, maybe it’s high time to leave the shores and explore the vast ocean in front of you.

19.  Set realistic expectations.

Whether on you or on others, it will do you good if your expectations are not through the stratosphere. The higher the expectation, the bigger the disappointment is.

20. Don’t rush.

Most of my mistakes were caused by my blitz mindset. I’d always feel that I must do something now and end up in a tight situation. It’s really a test of character to step back when logic dictates that something must be done. But if there’s doubt, if there’s a foggy mind, the best way is to slow down. A clear mind is a good breeding ground for wise decisions.

21. Success is really relative. 

There’s not an absolute definition of the word success. I personally believe that we should not be too obsessed with this success thing as the world normally defines it. If you know your highest priorities, like relationship with God and family, you don’t have to pattern your life after things that will only lead to emptiness.

22. Being precedes doing.

The bible says God predestined us to be conformed to the image of His son. God will not mind sending us into obscurity if only He can break and mold us. Bottom line, it is still for our good.

23. Be thankful.

Yes, life is difficult but personally when I look back on my life, I’ve always been blessed. I am really amazed how God has shown me grace, mercy and favor all throughout. There is always something to be thankful for.

24. Remember and forget. 

Always remember the good things that happened in your life because of God’s favor and forget the past, in the sense that you don’t allow it to influence your present in a negative way.

25. Help when you are in a position to do so.

Showing that you care has a more lasting impact on somebody’s life than a million words would do.

26. Always rejoice.

This is a biblical principle that deserves our attention. We have a hope that won’t be quenched. He who promised is faithful. He can be trusted in  everything.  In our deepest pains and disappointments, we can look up and rejoice knowing that God knows, God sees, and He will come for you in your darkest hours.

27. Always sow seeds of good works.

Another timeless principle. You reap what you sow. Giving yourself fully to the work of the Lord even when you feel low and alone , is something that God won’t overlook. He will surely reward you.

28. Let God be God. 

If you sin, let God be your merciful judge. If you are wronged, let God be your vindicator. In everything, let Christ be.

29. Ponder eternity. 

What is this lifetime compared to eternity with God? What are our sufferings in this life compared to the glory that He will share with us in heaven? Streets of gold. Ain’t that cool?

30. Live.  

No matter where you are, what your situation is, until God calls us home, He wants us to live on. Jesus died not just for the forgiveness of our sins but also that we may experience life, and to have it more abundantly.

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