thirty years later


I’m sitting in Shari’s Restaurant in Newberg, Oregon. The Salmon dinner with rice pilaf and seasonal vegetables was delicious. Thank you for asking.

Looking out the window, I see sights both familiar and poignant. And I remember.

I remember vaguely the late night conversation with a high school friend nearly thirty years ago. It was the day of my high school graduation. I had just received my diploma. What a sense of relief that the thirteen year ordeal was over. Yea, I did first grade twice. Such is the legacy of early childhood scholarship.

Now, all these years later, I reflect back on the things which happened. The hopes, the fears, the struggle to survive emotionally and financially. I aimed high and attained many of my goals, to be sure. I just have to remind myself occasionally, completist and perfectionist that I am when it comes to fulfilling what I have set out to do.

Learned my Hebrew and Greek, plus a few source languages? Check.

Earned two masters degrees, with a doctorate thrown in just for kicks? Check.

Got married and had a gaggle of ki—(scratch that; some goals are never meant to be pursued).

Found a calling and purpose in life? Yes, but not without continual revising as life progresses.

So much is the same; so much is different, vastly so. Not just in the culture, both ecclesially and otherwise, but also in me personally. Sitting here at Shari’s drives this point home. The facility still has its trademark octagonal shape so as to offer increased window seating. Yet it also offers wifi, a technology which did not exist in my youth. It is the same and different.

I feel this tension in my own life. I’m the same Glen as the young man who chose to enjoy late night conversation here on graduation night, rather than participate in the mostly unsavory activities chosen by some of my peers. But I’m also older. The jury is still out whether I’m wiser, but I have no doubt I am far more jaded than my younger self.

Yet, there is a kernel of youthful hope which lingers in my heart. It desperately yearns to encounter God in the dark places, the mundane routines, and the ordinary conversations within my church family, throughout the city, and especially in the margins where I’m learning to ditch ambition in favor of ordinary friendships so that Jesus may be made known.

I didn’t originally intend to dine here on this occasion. Yet providence offered the opportunity. And I am glad for it. A delicious meal, a moment for reflection on the years which have passed, and a grateful heart as I slowly begin to figure out that maybe God isn’t finished with me yet.

So for now, I take my leave in order to enjoy my nephew’s concert. Maybe I’ll return in another thirty years if God, in his wisdom and providence, ordains it.


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