What if sixteen-year-old you met sixty-year-old you? What might be their reaction? The question arose as I pondered my 60th birthday coming up in two months. After the initial shock of being blasted into the future, 16-year-old John (I’ll call him Johnny), might have some surprises.
First, he may not even recognize me. Hey, I sometimes don’t recognize myself! I’ll see some old guy in the mirror of a retail store, and suddenly realize it’s me! Johnny might be shocked that I ditched the long rockstar hair and 70’s sideburns for a short silvery cut with a goatee. 70’s singer David Crosby was certainly staggered at the thought that he “almost cut his hair”, before he came to his senses and let his “freak flag fly”. Sorry Johnny, I now prefer it short. Johnny might also be horrified at my gut. I used to think my 32-inch waist was fat. Oh, to have THAT back! But at least I have a better upper body and cardio than Johnny, as I finally made it to the gym in my fifty’s. (It's never too late!)
I think Johnny might like my guitar collection, though he’d have no clue how to play them. He was strictly a drummer back then, with big dreams of future stardom. When I tell him I’ve worked in the insurance industry my whole life, and never toured the arena circuit, he’d probably be crushed. But I’d show him on my computer that I have recorded albums, both with bands and solo, without even a recording studio.
At that point, Johnny would be astounded at my technology. Heck, our 40-meg computer from decades ago would have blown him away. The fact that I can play videos, scroll through photo albums, and play my entire record collection (records – ha-ha!) on my cell phone would put his jaw straight to the floor. And oh yeah, cell phones? No cord? He couldn’t even imagine reading these words on a screen like you’re reading them now. No paper?
While those changes might rock his brain, the next few revelations would certainly rock his heart. I would take him to meet my wonderful wife Missy. I would be sure to tell him that the intimate, satisfying relationship Missy and I have enjoyed for 41 years has been everything I hoped for and more. That there really are women who will not break your heart, who will love you unconditionally, who will make your victories more satisfying, and your losses more bearable. That she has walked with me faithfully through good times and bad, just like she vowed. And he would look at me in awe and say “What? Wait a minute! That cute girl who smiles at me across the room in business math class? I marry her?” And I would grin and say “Yup! You meet her when you audition for her brother’s band!”
I think he would shed a few tears when I take him to meet our daughters and grandchildren. He would be humbled by the gracious love and sweet spirit that overflows them. He might wonder how such incredible people came from such a messed up, depressed, basket-case like himself. And he would freak out that his future kiddies are now over twice his age. (Sorry girls! But still beautiful!) He would probably think that his sons-in-law are great father-figures. And I would have to share with him that Mom and Dad, and Sylvia too, all passed away over the last two years.
And this would lead me to the most critical part of our time together. I would share with him that the reason I’m at such peace today is that I encountered Jesus Christ in August of 1980, and that I’ve walked with Him ever since. I would explain that Christ died on the cross to pay the price for my sins, (and Johnny’s coincidentally), so that if I had faith in Him, I'd be reconciled to God. His blood has taken away my curse. His resurrection has given me new life. His promises have assured me that when I slip through that final door, I will be in Paradise; with Mom, with Dad, and with Sylvia. Most importantly with Jesus.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 says “Better is the end of a thing, than its beginning.” In other words, it’s better to start out in a bad place and end up in a good one, than the other way around. What are your thoughts? To my middle-aged peers, what would your 16-year-old self, think about your current day self? And to my younger friends and family, based on the direction of your life, what would your older you, say to the current you, if they could meet with you right now? What if . . . sixteen met sixty?