Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, the half-century mark is a time of celebration, even if we don't really feel like celebrating.
While serving as a pastor in a small Maine church, my congregation saw fit to take time to celebrate my fifty years of life with a surprise party following Sunday service.
Although I'm the type of person who doesn't like surprises or bringing attention to myself, I do admit it was a very enjoyable party and it was nice to see my friends and family together at the same time.
After the singing of the traditional "Happy Birthday" song, it was time for me to extinguish the fifty blazing candles in one breath. This would have been an easy task except for the fact that when I bent over the cake to blow out the candles, I had forgotten I was wearing a necktie and almost set my tie on fire.
I jerked my head back avoiding the potential mishap, but in doing so I only blew out half the candles. On the second try I put my necktie over my shoulder and finished the task. It was a funny scene that brought a great deal of laughter to family and friend alike, but I always felt a little depressed that I never blew out all the candles at once.
I recently turned sixty and when my wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday I said, "Methyl, I don't want a party, friends, or presents. All I want is a birthday cake with sixty candles. I've been waiting ten years for a rematch with that birthday cake and this time I'm going to do what I couldn't do ten years ago."
Methyl thought the request was a bit strange, but she did indeed give me a cake with sixty candles on my birthday.
As my wife lit the candles, one-by-one, I knew that this birthday would be different. With this rematch I felt like a formerly beaten boxer who was given a chance of redemption after a previous humiliating defeat. Victory would soon be mine at last.
However, when the time for redemption came, victory was not mine to embrace. With one hard blow that would have easily extinguished one hundred candles, I was only able to blow out fifty-seven.
Sadly, in the length of time that it took for my wife to light all sixty candles, three of them burned out. Ten years earlier I was defeated by a necktie. On this rematch it was time that was the culprit that denied me the righting of a previous wrong ten years earlier.
Once again God had the last laugh... and I have a very humorous story to share for yet another ten years.
However, I do want one more rematch. If God allows me to live another ten years to my seventieth birthday, I do intend to blow out all seventy candles on my birthday cake. Next time, however, we are going to buy longer candles.
Written in 2010 by Rev. Raymond C. Nolan
Rev. Raymond C. Nolan has served as a minister for over 30 years and is presently the Assistant Pastor at Daybreak United Methodist Church in Miflin, Alabama. His positive outlook on life serves as an inspiration to all who know him.
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Read some of Ray's other writings too:
Blessings In Disguise
Rank Does Have Its Privileges
Missing The Obvious
We're Never Too Old To Teach
Out Of The Mouths Of Babes
Does God Have A Sense Of Humor?
Becoming Too Available
Bernie and Me