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I’m writing these words on my 54th birthday, and I’m in a reflective mood. I’m thinking about what I have learned in my five and a half decades of living. Here’s a list, in no particular order:

  1. Baseball is still the greatest sport in the world, but I have a suspicion that rugby is even better.
  2. Some, but not most, of what I was afraid would happen has happened; most, but not all, of what I was afraid would never happen has happened.
  3. There is pressure in diving deep and pleasure in staying shallow; both have their time and place.
  4. Following Jesus is hard; not following Jesus is harder.
  5. I owe a lot to a lot of people, but I owe everything to only One.
  6. Money isn’t everything; it is, however, something.
  7. Lingering regret comes from shortsightedness while increasing gratitude comes from a broader perspective; God has a way of working God’s purposes out through and despite what we do or don’t do.
  8. Most of what I really need to know I have learned from my father, my mother, Preacher Bill, Preacher Key, Dr. Giddens, my wife, my children and Uncle Johnny; the rest I have learned from Frederick Buechner, Barbara Brown Taylor, Eugene Peterson, Brennan Manning, Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen.
  9. Small towns are better than big cities and vice versa.
  10. I have a song.
  11. German chocolate cake is worth waiting a year for.
  12. Prayer, like breath, is life.
  13. I suspect that for every act of grace that has been extended to me of which I am aware there are at least three of which I am unaware; I am grateful for them all.
  14. I went into the ministries of preaching, praying, teaching and writing because I wanted to engage in a lifelong quest for truth; if I were not a minister I would be an astronomer – for the same reason.
  15. Movies filmed in black and white are as a rule superior to those filmed in color.
  16. The Holy Spirit will not leave me alone; most of the time I am glad.
  17. I could do a better job of helping people overcome their self-centeredness if I could do a better job of overcoming mine.
  18. It’s hard enough trying to figure out the people who live in the same town I do; it would be mighty arrogant of me to think I can understand folks who live on the other side of the world.
  19. Life is simple. And complicated.
  20. I will always like the Monkees.
  21. I am me. Thanks be to God.

Michael Ruffin is pastor of First Baptist Church in Fitzgerald, Ga. He blogs at On the Jericho Road.

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