35 and Contemplative


Today I turn 35. And for the first time in my life, I’m taking inventory of all my years. It’s quite an experience.

We have an opportunity to pray in our chapel every morning. I often go and spend time there in the mornings. My prayer time is typically filled with the usual requests for guidance, help, and protection over my family, along with many other needs. But this morning’s prayer was quite different.

Today, realizing my life could easily be halfway over, I began a contemplative sort of prayer. I looked at the storyline of my life. The ups and downs, the failures and successes, the good choices and the bad, and the emotional ride of it all.

I’ve experienced many things I always hoped to experience. I graduated high school and college. I got married, went into ministry, had kids. I had a goal of having a published book by age 35, and that goal will soon be fulfilled. I’ve achieved a lot on my bucket list.

But I’ve also experienced many things that weren’t on my to-do list. I broke my arm when I was 9 (well, my brother broke it by shaking a chair I was standing on. I’m not bitter). I ran from God and my calling early in life. I got a master’s degree (NEVER dreamed of that!). Dad died early. We had identical twin girls. Found out my son had a seizure disorder—spent 5 days in ICU with him on a ventilator. And I made many poor choices over the years that I don’t even want to mention. None of these were in my life plan.

As I look back, I see good choices and bad. I see things that were in my control, and I see things that were totally OUT of my control.

But as I sat in our small, dimly lit chapel early this morning prayerfully thinking back on my life, one truth struck me very clearly—through it all, there’s not been one single moment when God has not been with me.

He’s always been there.

When I was running from Him, he was poking and prodding me to come back. When I was running with Him, He was leading and opening doors. When I was doubting, He was whispering in my ear. When I was hurting and troubled, He was soothing my soul. When I was afraid, He was holding my hand.

He’s always been there.

He was there when I graduated. He was there when I got married. He was there at the birth of all three of my children. He was there when I broke my arm at 9. He was there when Dad died. He was there when my son was in ICU. I didn’t always know it then, but I do now.

He’s always been there.

I wonder what the next 35 years will hold. I still have hopes and dreams. I hope I’ll waste less time. I hope I’ll accomplish God’s will more than my own. I hope I don’t get in the way as much as I have in the past. I hope I can make far better decisions. I hope His will trumps my own.

I know there will be highs and lows. I have plans, and I’m certain many of them will come to pass. But I also know that many more unexpected moments will strike. But there is one thing I am certain of. No matter what happens, no matter where I end up…

He’ll be there.

For this reason, I’m looking forward to every moment of the next 35 years.

For a much funnier take on aging, read my reflections from my last birthday…
Dear 19-Year-Old Me

10 Replies to “35 and Contemplative”

  1. Daren, I’ve wanted to see you and thank you for preaching at Union Grove last month while I was on vacation. Wow! Everyone wanted to talk about how you blesses them with your message, the elder lady on the front said now Bro Dasher that young man really preached. Thank you so much. It’s hard to get good speakers for my handful but its lets you see even a small church appreciates your ministry. As I prepare each week I prepare as if there are 100’s or a handful. Looking forward to getting a copy of your book

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