I have a birthday coming up. A BIG birthday. The big “7-0.”
IF all works out, I plan to be in Carlsbad, California, with family as this memo is released. The state has many memories for me. Married in Sacramento. All three of our children were born and spent several years growing up in northern California.
In particular, I love the coastline of California. Highway 1 is among the most scenic drives in the United States as it winds through Monterey and down to southern points of the state. Gorgeous views of the ocean from various heights highlight the drive.
Just before my heart surgery in 2005, I was on a business related trip to Los Angeles. I took time to find a scenic walk along the ocean. I reflected that as much as I loved the experience, it was perhaps the last time I might see it. God had other plans for me. I’ve returned several times.
As I hit this birthday mile marker, I’ve become increasingly aware of a truth found in Psalm 39 (among other places). It reads:
“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing[a] they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!” Psalm 39: 4-6
That reminder of “fleeting” time caused me to reflect on my “yesterdays.”
- Yesterday I was a small boy living in Seattle walking with my father to the nearby Carkeek Park on a Saturday morning.
- Yesterday I was playing Little League Baseball in Richfield, Minnesota, and watching the Twins play in nearby Met Stadium.
- Yesterday I learned that God has gifted me to speak and debate and it gave me a sense of purpose.
- Yesterday (1968) I would awaken on a Saturday morning to learn my treasured father had died. “Well before his time…” said so many.
- Yesterday I was forced to grow up when a screaming boot camp sergeant jarred me out of sleep and into military reality for four years.
- Yesterday I entered the world of media and became the TV sports personality on American Forces Radio and Television in Iceland.
- Yesterday I met the beautiful Rhonda Sawyer in Sacramento, California. We dated and eventually married.
- Yesterday I held the first of my three children—experiencing life anew. Marshall, Adam, and Ingrid are all reminders of how precious life is.
- Yesterday I would meet two men while working in Grass Valley, California, who would greatly influence my life: Chuck Gratner and Glenn Murray.
- Yesterday I would find sweet fellowship in Grass Valley and Roseville (California), Dallas, and Pittsburgh with groups of men we called “fellowship groups.” Many of these friendships continue to this day.
- Yesterday (2005) I discovered I had diabetes. Quintuple bypass surgery would come along quickly and I joined the “zipper club” by God’s grace.
- Yesterday, after twenty years on two Chicago radio stations, I was told my services were no longer needed. I hold no grudges. No win doing that.
- Yesterday my church offered me a leadership position that enabled me to continue using that with which God has entrusted me.
In all my yesterdays, the steady hand of God has guided and protected me. Even in the toughest times.
Seven decades of life. And the call remains to follow Jesus. It was just yesterday that He gave me life.
That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.
You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCosyuBzdSh1mXIas_kGY2Aw?
For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit www.elfstrandgroup.com