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Midlife crisis, Motorbikes and Men

April 9, 2012

ImageI know it is hard to believe for those who know me but I am a few months away from being 40! I decided many years ago that for my midlife crisis I would get a motorbike (something I have always wanted from the age of 16!) and my wife has agreed (it’s the bank manager who won’t!).

Seriously as I reflect on reaching 40, I can empathise more with those experiencing midlife crises. As a pastor as I look back over a number of ‘big’ pastoral issues I have dealt with over the last 10 years I now see this modern-day phenomenon as a contributing factor in some of them. (forgive that this blog is very male sided – I’ll ask my wife to comment on this blog from a female perspective!)

So what is a midlife crisis? For some it can be a quite serious condition (see http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/men4060/Pages/midlifecrisis.aspx) but for me (as perhaps most men) it is just a questioning of what I have achieved and whether it is still possible to achieve much more. It is a struggle with the domestication of family life and the frustration of not fulfilling a ‘wild at heart’ life (title of a good book by John Eldredge on Christian masculinity). The dangers of a midlife crisis are that it can drive us to find our identity in work (workaholic), drive us to foolish or reckless abandonment to hobbies/spending, or drives us from our family and even into the arms of another! So what teaching do we see in the bible to help us. I see two main areas (and the second will finally return us to the book of Proverbs!)

ImageFirstly I believe that David had a crisis, probably partly a midlife crisis (see 2 Samuel 11) which resulted in adultery (to put it nicely).  How did David give into his midlife crisis. Firstly we read in v1 that this happened when ‘Kings go off to war’, David should have been going to war not sitting around looking at things he shouldn’t have been. We need to learn that we should be using our time for extending the kingdom of God and even though there are many stresses in our life not to stop going to ‘war’ for the Kingdom – by which I mean prayer, church service and evangelism. Secondly I read into the text that at that time in the evening he should have been with his wife, instead he was looking at someone else’s. We who have wives need to learn to stop surfing the web/tv at night (whether sports, pornography….) and spend it with our wives. Thirdly (and most importantly) Psalm 51 is the prayer of David following this sin and he prays ‘Restore to me the joy of my salvation’. John Piper interprets that this may mean not that he lost his joy as a result of his sin but that he sinned as a result of losing his joy in his salvation. If we are to survive a midlife crisis or to that matter any crisis we need to find our joy in our salvation, our joy in Jesus. The joy of the Lord is our strength! So ultimately a midlife crisis for some of us is more of a spiritual crisis and we need to turn again to Christ. Fourthly this account shows us that even if we have ‘blown up’ there is a way back and it begins with getting right with the Lord.

The second area of bible material to help us through our thinking is that found in the book of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs spells out to us three ways of living – wisely, foolishly or wickedly. I believe we can respond to the emotions of a midlife crisis (or other) in one of these three ways.  It is those who act foolishly at midlife that make this stage of a life a joke for some and a travesty for others because foolishness more often than not leads to wickedness! For those like me at midlife we need to ask ourselves are we going to be the court jester, the enemy or the son of the King? I leave you with some Proverbs that may be a mirror into some of our foolish ways. May God help us live as wise, as children of the King.

Prov 17:24 The discerning sets his face toward wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.

Prov 10:23 Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool, but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding.

Prov 11:29 Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.

Prov 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Prov 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Prov 14:16 One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.

Prov 14:24 The crown of the wise is their wealth, but the folly of fools brings folly

Prov 26:11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly

Prov 28:26 Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered

Prov 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

Prov 1:32 For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them.

Prov 10:8 The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.

plus many more, search them out.

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