I was 10. It was 1977. Star Wars played at the drive in. Atari was born. Elvis died. I played with my brother and sister. I fought with my brother and sister. We all rode bikes, played outside with neighborhood kids, took family vacations, and hiked Fall Creek Falls. We cheered for the Vols. We had Christmas in Tennessee and Thanksgiving in Alabama. I was usually in church, school, or playing basketball. I learned to love Jesus and shoot left-handed lay-ups. I had a great family and a fun childhood. It was 1977. I was 10.
I was 20. It was 1987. Reagan told Gorbachev to tear down the wall. Whitney wanted to dance with somebody. Robin Williams said “Good Morning” to Vietnam. Fox became a network. We were still mourning the space shuttle Challenger. I was a high school graduate and making my way through Liberty University. High school basketball ended in disappointment, but college intramural basketball filled the void. I led a small youth ministry at Staunton Baptist Church and would soon take a summer job at The Master’s Inn Christian Camp. On April 9, I met Jill DeWitt. My life was changed forever. It was 1987. I was 20.
I was 30. It was 1997. We watched the Titanic sink again and tried to get MMMBop out of our heads. Peyton Manning should have won the Heisman, and the Vols were a year away from a National Championship. Mike Tyson bit an ear. Harry Potter was born. Princess Diana died. So did Mother Theresa. And I had said good-bye to my grandfathers. I had finished college and my master’s degree. Jill DeWitt had been Jill Brown since 1991. Miranda was 3, Cassidy was born in October. In between them we grieved our child that was never born. My “summer job” at The Master’s Inn grew into a 10-year ministry but was ending. We packed up and moved to Moline, Illinois to serve with Homewood Free Church. We started a new journey in a new state, new friends, and the coldest weather I had ever experienced. It was 1997. I was 30.
I was 40. It was 2007. The world had changed on 9/11/2001, but we were moving forward. We saw the third Pirate movie, the third Spider-Man movie, and the third Shrek movie. America elected our first African American president. The first iPhone was made. We were now a family of five; Logan was our millennial baby in 2000. We had moved to Southern California, leading a college ministry through Trinity Church. These were the days of Halloween Happenin’, Holland Festivals, Legoland, summer trips to Tennessee and Virginia, and keeping up with three active kids. I no longer played basketball; I coached. My oldest was entering high school and would be off to college in a few years. Life was about to change again. It was 2007. I was 40.
Now I’m 50. It’s 2017. I’d rather listen to Whitney and MMMBop than most of the current music, though Logan introduces me to great bands all the time. It hasn’t been a great year for movies, but Dunkirk was good. I’d rather not comment on politics. I’ve said good-bye to all of my grandparents and some of the best mentors in my life. These are the days of 25th wedding anniversaries in Hawaii and driving to San Diego to visit fully-launched Miranda or Santa Barbara to see college-student Cassidy. It’s enjoying the time with Logan as the only child still at home. It’s sometimes being annoyed by the drums in the house, then realizing how much I’ll miss those drums in a few years. It’s going back to Neyland Stadium for the first time since college. It’s experiencing a painful good-bye from one church melting into a passion for God’s work at Venture Church. It’s still being a student at age 50, with the expectation that “Doc Brown” may one day be a reality. These are the days of being more in love with my wife, more proud of my kids, more excited about ministry, and more aware of my need for the grace of God than ever before. It’s 2017. I’m 50.