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The Stages of Life

by Charles R. Swindoll on July 7, 2006 in Articles

I seem to be lingering longer over my morning bowl of cereal these days. It’s not that I’m slowing down…I feel better than ever. Across the table there’s a powerful pull that keeps me from getting up. Two blue eyes from a four-year-old named Noah look back at me beneath a head full of soft red hair…ahh, I was born for this!

My son Chuck Jr. and his family have been staying with us while they relocate to the Dallas area. This means I enjoy spending time with my grandchildren. I love it! I tell them stories, we talk, we laugh, and we learn. I want them to know how much God loves and cares for them. They’re so little, so fragile. Yet the heavenly Father never takes His eye off of them for one moment.

Some of the parents I talk to these days are not so enamored. The new has worn off. The fresh scents of baby powder and lotion have given way to the daily drudgery of diapers and bibs. Laundry and dishes pile up. The needs of the newborn seem never ending. For the first-time mother or father, the daily grind can become unyielding. Children get sick and parents get tired. The range of emotions swings back and forth, up and down like a roller coaster. First steps…first words…first day of school, all coming rapid-fire with little chance for a mom or dad even to catch their breath much less record it all on video!

A grade school released the results of a poll among the kids. You’ll smile at their findings:

Q: Is it better to be single or married?
A: “It gives me a headache to think about that stuff. I’m just a kid. I don’t need that kind of trouble.” (Kenny, 7)
A: “Love will find you, even if you are trying to hide from it. I have been trying to hide from it since I was five, but the girls keep finding me.” (Bobby, 8)
A: “No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do with how you smell. That’s why perfume and deodorant are so popular.” (Jan, 9)

Each of us is at a particular life stage. I love a quote from a friend who says, “Aging happens fast. About the time your face clears up your mind gets fuzzy!” Here at the seminary we embrace all walks of life. Some come straight out of college…eager to jump right into the work. Newly married couples meet for a picnic lunch on the grass in front of the library. Many students are parents juggling scholastic work with family life. Outside my office window I often see small children playing near the chapel fountain. Some of our best students are second career folks who are entering into academia after a stint in the military or the “working world.” And there are those who come fulfilling a lifelong dream of  studying the Word at the seminary level. We’ve got all ages and stages here and we’re better for it.

The essence of the “stages of life” was captured by Solomon when he penned these poetic words:

A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. Also, the sun rises and the sun sets; and hastening to its place it rises there again. Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues swirling along;  and on its circular courses the wind returns. All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again (Eccles. 1:4–7, NASB).

Seconds pass into minutes, days into weeks and months, years march on into decades and centuries. Birth, childhood, marriage, and even death. These are the stages of life.  This is also the theme for this issue of our award-winning magazine. In fact the magazine is itself going through a rebirth of sorts. Let me be the first to welcome you to our new look. I hope you find it as refreshing as I do. Over the years Kindred Spirit has grown and matured while keeping as its main goal encouraging the friends of what we affectionately call around here the Dallas Seminary family. Whether you’re a longtime reader or a first-time visitor: welcome, we’re glad you’re here. Linger awhile, take time to read each article.

You may not currently be living in the particular life stage you’ll be reading about, but let me assure you, the article will be worth your time…trust me on that! As the millennial clock ticks onward toward two thousand, I urge you to pause, and reconsider not only the stages of life but the life-giver Himself!

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