John Glenn has said that there is no cure for the common birthday. As the days pass, we inexorably age, wrinkles appear, body parts wear out, and the birthdays continue to arrive until we die. Someone once noticed that after age 30 the body seems to have a mind of its own; instead of the quick deft motions that came almost effortlessly, we move slowly, sometimes painfully, and sometimes not at all.

In a book entitled Halftime, the author, Bob Buford, compares our life to a sport that has a break halfway through the game. He uses football as this example, but any sport that has two halves would do. The game begins with a plan for how to play the full game, in the middle is the halftime when the coaches and players analyse what happened in the first half and make adjustments to improve and overcome the obstacles that occurred in the first half. Quite often there is a big difference between the first half and the second half. Many games are decided in that second half. If our life is like a game of football, it begins with the kick off. Childhood flies by quickly, and then there are the turbulent teens and the roaring twenties, and the thirties and forties come and go, and suddenly, halftime arrives. The first half has passed faster than we ever thought it would. What we sometimes forget is that the second half is played differently because so many birthdays have accumulated and the body is giving out. We may not be able to play as fast or as skilfully, especially in the last quarter. As we age we need to learn to work smarter rather than harder; it is important not to waste the time we may have left before the body stops cooperating; we either go through all these stages of life or we die young. Every age has it benefits, and rather than wishing we were either younger or older, we should enjoy the age we are in. We need to accept the fact that if we were born the year we were born, then we are the age that we are right now or we are dead. There is nothing in between.

Wherever we are in this game called life, it is good to pause and reflect where we have been and how we can do better from here on to the end. For some of us, it is the fourth quarter and we have already received the two-minute warning, and so we know that the end of the game is in sight. As long as there is still time on the clock there is still time to score. Some games are won in the final seconds. Let us learn from the past while we concentrate on the future. We need to ask ourselves what has worked in our lives so far and what changes do we need to make in order to improve the time we have left.

We want to avoid the woulda, coulda, shoulda routines where we lament the mistakes we have made. We need to feel thankful for forgiveness. We should look back only to learn how to fix what was broken. Paul shows this mindset when he says “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”. The future is all any of us have left. It may be long or short, but we all need to plan to improve how we use the time left to our full advantage. So, with Paul, let us reach forward and press for the prize that the Lord is waiting to give to each of us at the end of the game of life.

Fortunately God wants us to succeed, for, as Peter tells us, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”.

We are all in this game of life, and with Paul we can say, “This one thing I do”. Let us charge back on to the field with renewed determination to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”.