The past few weeks, I’ve been talking about the Seasons of our lives. Today, I’ll share about Winter to you.
For me, Winter represents ages 61 and onwards.
You might be saying, “Shucks Bo, that’s not for me. I’m far from that age.”
Believe me, this is for you. Because you need to prepare for Winter. Because the battle is not won in the battle itself. The battle is won before the battle begins. Here’s the truth: Victory is all about preparation.
I repeat: Prepare for Winter.
No doubt about it. As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, Winter will come in your life. No matter what you do. No matter how many face lifts and tummy tucks and botox treatments and breast augmentation you get, you won’t stop aging.
In Spring, you plant. In Summer, you care for what you planted. In Autumn, you harvest what you planted. And in Winter, you let the soil renew itself for the next planting.
In other words, Winter is about giving to the next generation.
Giving what? Giving the “Ancestral Blessings” that we receive from our parents and our grandparents—and the “Ancestral Blessings” we give to our children and grandchildren.Nice Benefits Of Being 60 Being sixty has cool advantages. Here they are. o Kidnappers are not very interested in you. o In a hostage situation, terrorists and bank robbers are likely to release you first. o People call at 9:00pm and ask, “I’m sorry, did I wake you up?” o You have a party at home and the neighbors won’t even know you’re having a party. Because it is so quiet. o Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can’t remember them. o And finally, you enjoy 20% discounts in restaurants, drugstores, and if you live in certain cities, free movies at certain days of the week. (I met an elderly couple who have watched every single movie shown. Even Chainsaw Gang Massacre III.) But the biggest benefit for being in Winter? God gives them the time and space to ask a very BIG QUESTION… When You Realize You Won’t Live Forever
When people are in their sixties, they come face to face with their mortality.
Let me describe Winter for you.
When they look at the mirror, they see their once-upon-a-time thick, jet-black hair disappearing before their eyes. (You should think positive. Don’t think your hair is lessening. Think your forehead is increasing.)
When they see their once-upon-a-time flawless, smooth skin now has wrinkle lines and age spots. (A little girl touched her grandfather’s face and asked him, “Lolo, did God make you?” “Yes, He did,” he smiled. The girl touched her own face and said, “Did God make me, Lolo?” “Yes, He did,” he nodded. The girl said, “I think God is getting better in making faces.”)
What they used to do effortlessly, they cannot do anymore. They used to run up the stairs. Now they can’t even climb up without sitting down after a few steps. After taking a rest midway, some even forget whether they were going up or going down.
Their vocabulary is now filled with medical terms, words they’ve never spoken before. Words such as “Cholesterol” and “Arthritis” and “Hypertension” and “Prostate” and “Osteoporosis”.
They’re stunned that their own parents died in their seventies or eighties—and that is only ten or twenty years away! At the Winter of life, they realize that death is just around the corner. And that’s a good thing, because they begin to ask this very big question…
The Wise Know What Questions To Ask
The Bible says, So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
A man who knows he’s dying one day becomes wise.
How do you know if you’re wise? Someone said a wise man doesn’t necessarily know the right answers, but he knows the right questions. And a person who’s facing his mortality is forced to ask the BIG QUESTION of winter.
Please know that people can ask this question at any season in their lives. Teenagers ask this question. Twenty-somethings ask this question. People in their thirties and forties ask this question. But when you’re in your sixties, you ask this question with greater urgency and ferocity.The Big Question Of Winter
Here’s the big question of Winter: Does my life have meaning?
This question is asked in various ways:
“Is my life all worth it?”
“Am I leaving a mark in the world?”
“What legacy am I leaving behind?”
“What gift am I giving to the next generation?”
“Am I leaving this world a better place than when I first entered it?”
All of a sudden, you realize that life isn’t about you.
Life Is About Giving
Julie (not her real name) is a 60+ year old woman who was told that she has cancer and she has three months to live.
Thankfully, Julie was a woman who had a deep relationship with God. She didn’t have fear in her heart.
Julie called up all her friends for a special dinner at home. After the meal, she invited them to gather in the living room. Julie then brought out all her possessions. Her jewelry. Her clothes. Her antiques.
Her friends were wondering what she was doing.
That was when Julie said, “As you know, my doctor said I have 3 months to live. Whether or not this is true, I do not know. But I feel this is a special gift from God to me. At least, I can prepare. One of the things I realized is that when you know you’re dying, you suddenly lose the desire to get. You now want to give. When one is dying, one looses the need for all these material things. So I want you to bring home one thing as a token of our friendship, something to remember me by.”
There was a lot of hugging and crying that night.
But Julie was right. Winter’s most important lesson? Life isn’t about getting. Life is about giving.
But you don’t give only material things…
The Bible says, A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children… (Proverbs 13:22)
Primarily, I believe it’s a spiritual inheritance.
(Note: Even if you don’t have biological kids, you have spiritual kids. Right now, there are young people that look up to you. What spiritual inheritance do you give to them?)
Your Greatest Legacy
When I was a young boy, my father picked me up from school. I had a burning question in my mind. I swallowed hard and blurted out the question, “Dad, what will I inherit from you?”
“Why do you ask?” my father asked me.
“This morning, my classmates and I were talking about inheritance. One of my classmates said he’d be inheriting their huge tracks of land. Another boy said he’d be inheriting their hardware store. When it was my turn to speak, I realized I had nothing to say. You don’t own a farm or a store.”
My father chuckled and said, “Son, you’ll inherit my values. My honesty. My work ethic. My sense of responsibility. My faith. My love. That’s what you’ll inherit from me.”
I nodded. “Thanks Dad.”
After a few minutes, I asked, “Uh, are you sure you don’t own land? Or a hardware store?” And we both laughed.
Dad’s 3 Gifts To Me
Dad passed away when he was 88 years old.
But he did leave behind a legacy.
He gave me many gifts, too many to count, but he gave 3 important ones. Dad’s legacy consisted of 3 virtues:
Why do I love God today?
Because all his life, Dad loved God. Dad made God first.
For him, it was the only way to live.
Dad and Mom started going to Mass daily when they got married. Dad was 25 and Mom was 19. And they never stopped. Dad went to Mass daily for 60 years, until God took him home. And Mom? To this day, at the age of 86, Mom still does it. She’s been going to Mass daily for 67 years.
The most important gift my parents gave me is my faith in God.
People are shocked why I started serving God at such a young age. How could I not serve God? Dad showed me that it was the only way to live as well.
Dad was serving in the Parish ever since I could remember. He was Lector, Commentator, Reader, Lay Minister, Altar Boy, Bell Ringer, and Offering Collector. In fact, people called him Assistant Parish Priest. Because the parish would collapse without Dad.
Light of Jesus Family started 31 years ago.
I was 14 years old—and I was already its over-all leader.
My father was a humble man. He never took the over-all leadership because he believed I had the gift and he didn’t. So he just supported me, always working behind the scenes.
He knew his place. He knew he was not a good preacher. But he knew he was a good accountant. So he focused on his core gift. He managed the finances of Light of Jesus Family.
Because of him, I realized that humble people are secure people. It’s the insecure people who like to grab the limelight, who scramble for positions, who’re enamored with titles—because they need the crowd’s applause.
Dad was different. He didn’t need anyone’s applause. He was a silent worker who did what he felt God wanted him to do.
In his company, Dad was Assistant Vice President. But in the ministry, he’d arrange the chairs of our prayer meeting—week after week after week…
Why did people trust a 14-year old kid to lead them?
Partly because my parents were trustworthy people. They were people of integrity.
I always preach that we harvest what we plant. But here’s the other truth: Part of what we harvest doesn’t come from what we planted. Part of what we harvest comes from what our parents planted.
Today, I’m enjoying the fruits of my parents’ planting.
This includes the trust and the respect that people gave me when I was starting out in ministry.
Dad was one of the most honest men I knew. So honest, everywhere he went, they always elected him as their Treasurer. He was Treasurer in the parish. He was Treasurer in the Homeowners Association. He was Treasurer for the Parent-Teachers Association. He was Treasurer for his Alumni Association. I bet if he joined the Nora Aunor’s Fans Club, they’d make him Treasurer too. (But I think he was Vilmanian.)
I’m wondering now if God called him to Heaven because they needed a treasurer there too.
This is what I call “Ancestral Blessings”.
Two Ancestral Blessings To Pass On
The Bible says, The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him. (Proverbs 20:7) I’m blessed today because of the godly life of my parents.
If your parents and grandparents followed God, you too will receive Ancestral Blessings from them. If they did what was right, if they stayed faithful to God, if they loved God, then no doubt about it, you’re now receiving Ancestral Blessings.
There’s no such thing as a self-made man. We’re partly made by the village that raised us.
I repeat: Part of our harvest, we planted. But a part of our harvest, we didn’t plant. It was planted by those that have gone before us.
We inherited spiritual wealth from our ancestors.
And we also pass this spiritual wealth to our descendents.
There are two Ancestral Blessings you want to pass on.
The first is spiritual values.
The second is a spiritual vision.
1. Pass On Spiritual Values
Today, I want you to give Ancestral Blessings to your children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. Biological or otherwise. Through the example of your life, bring them closer to God.
If you do, the Bible says that you’ll be like stars that shine forever. Daniel 12:3 says those who lead many to righteousness, will shine like the stars forever and ever. One of the most beautiful legacies you can leave behind this world are people who follow God because of you.
This made me think about how hard people work to give a financial inheritance to their kids.
According to news reports, Egypt’s President Mubarak, before he was ousted, had $80 Billion stashed away in Swiss Banks. Today, he can’t get any of it, because it’s put on hold.
President Mubarak is 82 years old. What will he do with $80 Billion? Give it to his children?
I repeat: A lot of people work hard to earn money to give a big financial inheritance to their children. But be very careful, because a big financial inheritance can be a curse, not a blessing—if they don’t have a spiritual foundation.
Instead of giving a financial inheritance, work very hard to give a spiritual inheritance to your children.
That’s the best gift you can give your children and grand children. Bring them closer to God!
But if there are Ancestral Blessings, there are also Ancestral Curses. If we live a life of unrighteousness, we pass on Ancestral Curses to the next generation. The Bible says the punishment of the fathers shall be brought down to the third and fourth generation. (Exodus 20:5).
What does that mean?
Simple. If the kids are exposed to the wrong living of their parents, they may imitate them. (It’s still their choice.)
I was talking to a married man who made a decision to cut his adulterous relationships. As we were talking and praying together, he told me something that blew my mind. He said that adultery runs in the family. His father had three wives. His uncles all had extra-marital affairs. His late grandfather also had four wives.
How come? Even if it wasn’t openly discussed, the kids grew up “sensing” the immorality of their father. This exposure made them more vulnerable to temptation in the later years of their life.
Let me emphasize. We don’t inherit sin. Sin is always a personal choice. But we can inherit the tendency to sin.
The only solution? Get re-parented by spiritual parents. Grow in your spirit. Grow in your character. (That’s what a spiritual community offers. Go look for one.)
And here’s the second part of the Ancestral Blessings that you want to pass on to your kids…
2. Spiritual Vision
Aside from spiritual values, you also want to pass on a spiritual vision to your children. Not as an imposition, but as an invitation.
There are two kinds of dreams: small dreams and big dreams. Don’t pass on your small dreams—only your big dreams. That’s the spiritual vision they need to guide them in life.
Let me go off tangent for awhile—and talk about small dreams.
I’ve been studying about menopause lately. All of us know that women go through menopause. But do you know that men go through their own menopause too?
For women, it’s physical. For men, it’s mental.
A woman’s menopause is caused by the lack of estrogen flowing through her veins. A man’s menopause is caused by the lack of dreams fulfilled in his life.
A man looks at the mirror and realizes he’s running out of time. He’s facing the fact that some of his most small dreams won’t be fulfilled.
Let me give you an example.
Like most guys I know, Dad liked cars.
And he had a life-long dream of owning a Mercedes Benz. It didn’t have to be new. Even if it was an old clunker. As long as it was a Benz. At a certain point, he was very close to fulfilling that dream. His friend was selling his 20-year-old Benz to Dad.
But at that time, Dad was so busy serving God in the ministry. Because he knew the old Benz would cost a lot of time and money to maintain it, he gave it up. Owning the Benz was his small dream. Serving God was his big dream. So he gave up his small dream for the sake of his big dream. That’s why it didn’t bother him that he never owned a Benz in his life. (In Heaven, I bet he’s driving a Rolls Royce now.)
All of us have small dreams. Go for them. They’re good for your self-esteem. And they’re absolutely fun. Fulfill them up if you can.
But sometimes, when there’s a conflict between your small dreams and big dreams, give up your small dreams for the sake of your big dreams.
I repeat: Don’t pass on your small dreams to your children. Small dreams are about preferences, personalities, and potentialities. Let them create their own small dreams.
It’s the big dreams that you want to pass on to them, a spiritual vision for their future.
I repeat: Not as an imposition but as an invitation. I tell my kids, “I want you to serve the Lord. In whatever call He gives you. You figure out how He wants you to serve Him. You could be a Chef or a Chemist or a Businessman or a Preacher. But whatever you do, I just want you to serve the Lord with all your heart.”
Let Go And Let God
Here’s the truth: Some of your big dreams won’t happen in your lifetime. That’s why you need to pass them on.
But that’s okay. Because if it’s a really big dream, the dream is more important than the dreamer. The dreamer can die but the dream won’t die. If the dream is more important than the dreamer, then you’re willing to pass the dream to the next generation. Let go and let God.
Moses dreamt of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. But he was never able to do it. He died before they actually stepped into the land. He had to pass his dream to Joshua, the leader that he chose to succeed him.
King David dreamt of building the Temple. But he couldn’t because he was a warrior, not a builder. So it was his son King Solomon who built the Temple.
When it comes to your dreams, don’t be distracted about timing.
For example, I’m dreaming of building 1000 Feasts (our weekly gatherings in Light of Jesus, my spiritual family). Will this happen in my lifetime? I believe it will.
But even if it won’t, it won’t bother me. We’re raising up a new generation of young leaders whom God will use to make that dream come true. I repeat: Because the dream is more important than the dreamer. The dreamer can die but the dream won’t die.
Let me end with one last story.
One day, an elderly carpenter was about to retire.
When he told the owner of the company that he was finally leaving, the man said, “I hate to let go such a great carpenter. Before you retire, can I ask a favor? Can you make one last house for me?”
The carpenter agreed, but he did so with a heavy heart. So when he was building the house, the passion was no longer there. It was shoddy workmanship. The people around him noticed, and they were sad to see him end such a sterling career in this way.
When the carpenter finished building the house, his Boss came over to inspect it. The man then faced the carpenter, took his hand, and placed the key of the house in his palm. “This house is yours,” the man said. “It’s our parting gift to you for all the years of service you gave the company.”
The carpenter was shocked. And then his heart was filled with painful regret. Oh, if he only knew he was building his own house, he would have done a better job!
Attention: You’re building your house now. Your construction materials are your thoughts, your words, and your deeds. By the way you live everyday, you’re building your house. By the way you talk, by the way you treat others, by the way you make your decisions everyday, you’re actually constructing your house—a house for your children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Will it be a house of love or indifference?
Will it be a house of fidelity or infidelity?
Will it be a house of generosity or selfishness?
Will it be a house of forgiveness or conflict?
You choose. Because you’re the carpenter.
My suggestion? Build well.
Because you want to give the best Ancestral Blessings to your descendents.
May your dreams come true,
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