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40 Years- A Time of Completion?

This past April 2nd, two very important events happened. First and foremost, Janet had a birthday and, as I do every year, I gave thanks that God gifted her to me. What a joy it has been to be married to her for more than 49 years and for our friendship to go back about 65 years now. As most of you know, we grew up in the same neighborhood, attended the same elementary school, our parents were best friends and we share quite a bit of history together.

In fact, throughout the years, I have said just about everything that there is to say about Janet. It has been a great run so far and we can’t wait to see what is around the next corner. Our love continues to grow and our grand journey continues!

So what does that have to do with 40 years? Well, that is the other important thing that we were able to celebrate – the fact that our family business was 40 years old on April 2nd. That’s right – we started on April 2, 1983 – six months after moving to the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel. We entered the staffing business and were fortunate to become an Inc. 500 business, one of the 500 fastest growing privately held businesses in the United States, in our first eligible year back in 1988. We have had the distinction of becoming an Inc. 1000 business two additional times in our history.

With the changes throughout the decades, we have had to re-invent ourselves several times. Our organization has survived both Democratic and Republican administrations, temporary clerical staffing, direct full time placement, food demonstrations in grocery stores, light industrial staffing and various forms of consulting. This includes team dynamics, career transition and even workplace chaplaincy. We have experienced rough times and have been blessed with periods of wonderful success as well.

I guess you could say that we have had all kinds of experiences that have helped us become who we are today. Back in the beginning, I figured by this time we would have retired. After all, we started the company when I was 30 and here I am having just celebrated my 70th year of life. Most of my friends have entered retirement but the truth of the matter is that I still derive enjoyment from some of the things that I do.

In fact, we have had the luxury of continuing the things that I enjoy while giving up those things that are no longer of interest to me. As most of you know, I was also blessed to be able to spend more than 8 years in seminary while I was still involved in the company.

That is the part that I enjoy the most – integrating faith and workplace ministry. It is gratifying to see how God works in so many everyday situations that we all experience. In the Bible, there are many examples of 40 representing a time of completion. In the account of Noah and the ark, it rained 40 days and 40 nights. The people of God wandered in the desert for 40 years. Jesus was in the wilderness 40 days and there are countless other examples of 40 representing completion. Two of the most famous kings, David, and his son, Solomon, each reigned for 40 years. Moses lived to the age of 120 years – with his life broken into 3 distinct periods of 40 years each.

It’s no surprise that I thought we would be done with this season of our lives at 40 years… but God apparently has another plan. And that’s just fine with us. I’m having the time of my life. The thrill of continuing to work part time while sharing God’s word and impacting lives for the kingdom is still very important to me.

Tonight’s verse is from Moses, the author of Deuteronomy, as he recounts the faithfulness of God as the people of God were in the desert. He tells us, in Deuteronomy 8:2-4, “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.”

How appropriate for us to read these verses. God has been faithful and while we have had our times in the desert, God has shown us the way. Any our faith has grown immeasurably in the last four decades. I don’t think either Janet or I would change the life we have had.

My encouragement is that if we do the work, and leave the result to God, we won’t ever be disappointed. My prayer is that God will continue to bless all of us and that we will humble ourselves, trusting in God to direct our steps. Haver a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

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