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Saturday, November 17 , 2018, 4:07 am | Fog 49º


Jim Langley: Becoming Better with Age

In my younger days I always appreciated a bottle of fine varietal wine. California wines were my preference back then, and I especially favored a good Gamay Beaujolais.

After becoming a follower of Christ I donated my small collection of California wines to a local charity, where I figured the live auction could at least provide some needed funds to help those who were less fortunate.

As you probably know, red wines become better with age when cared for properly.

The best wine I ever tasted was a gift from a doctor in El Paso, Texas, who had recently retired from the World Health Organization. This gentlemen presented me with an Argentinean red table wine that was produced in 1965.

It looked quite plain, and I distinctly remember taking it to a New Year’s Eve party with a small group of work associates years ago. To my surprise, that table wine was simply remarkable, and I immediately wished I had saved it for a more special occasion where my friends who appreciated fine wines could have shared the experience with me.

Just like a good red wine we, too, can become better with age.

Whether we become better with age or just bitter is our personal choice. As we age, we will certainly go through many life experiences that will shape our attitudes and the way we think.

As a follower of Christ I do my best to pattern my life after others who have gone before me and learn from their example. We’re reminded by Christ Jesus himself in John 16:33, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

In James 1:2-3, we are instructed “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

In fact, that’s what makes for a full-bodied, exceptionally tasty red wine. It must be mature and complete and drinking it before proper aging takes away from the tasting experience.

Early in my insurance sales career I was given a book, The Greatest Salesman in the World, by Og Mandino, which tells the story of Hafid, a poor camel boy who achieves a life of abundance after following the explicit instructions found in 10 scrolls. Personally, I found the book inspiring and worthwhile in my professional life and my Christian walk.

There are some references to Paul in the book and praying to God, but I never considered it to be strictly for a Christian audience. In fact, as a sales manager, I recommended all my agents read the book for their own personal growth and success in their chosen career.

In essence, following “the legend of the 10 scrolls” can certainly provide a formula for a full-bodied life that can be satisfying and fulfilling in one’s chosen profession. It does not bring about the peace that we all long for as human beings. That can only come from a right relationship with our Father in Heaven through His Son’s work on the cross.

Completeness can only come from recognizing our sinful nature, turning away from our sinful ways and believing in Christ as Savior and Lord of all.

In his devotional My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers often talks about our wanting to become “broken bread and poured-out wine” in our desires to serve God.

Chambers ends one of his devotionals in this way: “I wonder what finger and thumb God has been using to squeeze you? Have you been as hard as a marble and escaped? If you are not ripe yet, and if God had squeezed you anyway, the wine produced would have been remarkably bitter.”

He ends the devotion, “Stay right with God and let Him do as He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children.”

As we grow older and hopefully wiser, I trust you will join me in stopping our whining in the honorable quest to become better, not bitter, with age!

Passages to Ponder

» Deuteronomy 4:5-7

» Job 12:11-13

» Psalm 119:97-104

» Proverbs 14:8-12

» Ephesians 4:31

— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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