Thoughts on My Seventy-Fifth Birthday!

Thoughts on my Seventy-Fifth Birthday

May 30, 2017

Dear friends and family,

This day, seventy-five years ago, God in His grace and mercy, and according to His eternal purposes, brought me into this world. I was born on May 30, 1942, in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. As Scripture says, there is “a time to give birth” (Ecclesiastes 3:2a).

Not much is said about being seventy-five years of age in Scripture, but I do notice that God called Abraham from Haran (where he had lived until the death of his father, Terah) to go into an unknown land, the land of Palestine. Yahweh God told Him, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you” (Genesis 12:1; cf. also vv. 2-3). Moses later wrote, “Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran” (v. 4b). This “father of the faithful” journeyed to Palestine at age 75—a journey that began an eventful life that brought the nation of Israel (eventually) into existence! I have been made to wonder if God could begin to use me, at the same age as Abraham, to do a work for Him in some significant way! May it be!

As everyone knows, as we age most of us can’t imagine that this many years have passed by since we first saw the light of day. I can testify to this. Inside, I feel like I should be age 16, 18, or 20—and not my actual present age. Maybe part of this comes from the fact that so much of what I envisioned and worked for after my teen years never materialized. But God does all things well and I will trust in Him at all times.

At about age 20 to 22, I imagined that God would work through me to preach and teach in many different states and even in foreign countries. I wanted to save the lost and build up the saved. As part of this “dream,” I wanted to form and cultivate home groups of devoted saints. (This is explained in the small article, “I Have a Dream!”–  http://truediscipleship.com/i-have-a-dream/.) According to this quest, I studied His Word, from Genesis to Revelation, and spent much time studying many other well-chosen books to arrive at some understanding of His will. By God’s grace, I was able to go to a variety of schools in my search for His truth. By my thirties, I planned to set up a thoroughly “Christian” school that would enable believers to take their children from the humanistic, secularistic, and worldly schools. (This was before home schooling became available.) I also prayed fervently for a wife since my teen years and finally, by my latter 30s or into my 40s, I hoped for a dozen children to raise for the Lord!

Further, I prayed that God would enable us to have a rural retreat where believers could find a place away from the cities for worship, prayer, instruction,  refreshment, and maybe even living, in the midst of forests, a lake, a stream, and green meadows. I read, researched, and prepared for this sort of location, away from the urban areas. I further hoped that the Lord would bring multitudes to salvation through Christ and that they would be taught and trained in the ways of righteousness. I looked forward toward being in the midst of a faithful community of believers, zealous for the Lord, holy in life, and filled with love and truth. Although many would think this lofty dream was unrealistic, it was a passion for many years. (Much that is found on the website and what is found in my written literature reflects these thoughts. www.Truediscipleship.com.)

I must admit, as I write, that most of this has never come to pass, yet God has been faithful and true. At long last, God provided a dear sweet wife whom I love with all of my heart! He has also given a house that is suitable to carry on His work, at least to some extent. Yet, much of my earlier “dream” never materialized. I’ve often wondered why my previous desire was never granted. But God is gracious and He will work according to His plan to accomplish His good will. He knows better than I!

Although I cannot endorse all of Newton’s theology, he did write something appropriate to this stage of my life. Composed at the beginning of a new year, Newton wrote:

New Years finds me employed. I compare it to a hill on the road, from the top of which I endeavor to look back on the way that the Lord has led me thus far through the wilderness (past). I look around to contemplate the difference his goodness has made between my situation, and that of thousands of my fellow creatures (present). I then look forward, and perceive that I am drawing apace to my journey’s end. I shall soon be at home (future).

My God and Father, by His grace and mercy, has enabled me to continue to maintain a website over the past 18 years, with maybe 1,800 articles (www.Truediscipleship.com). We have thousands of  insertions in Pinterest—which you may want to check out (https://www.pinterest.com/lovemygod777/boards/). Facebook is coming along well, with maybe 1,500 people now being reached as “friends” (https://www.facebook.com/richard.hollerman). And God has enabled us to publish a couple hundred books, booklets, and tracts over the past 40 years. May God be blessed through these efforts! So much more needs to be done while I have life in me!

What does God have in mind for any period of time that remains in your life? You will need to answer that for yourself, but as I think of my life, different things come to mind. Scripture warns, “You do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1b). And James adds, “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (4:14). I don’t know what the Lord has in mind for any coming days or years that are in my earthly future. Yet I continue to hope for various things:

  • That I will use my time and opportunities to glorify and honor God.
  • That God will enable me to share the good news of Jesus Christ to one and all.
  • That He will help me to build up the saved, those already born of God into the family of God.
  • That He would give me a clearer understanding of His Word that I might know and do the will of God.
  • That any misunderstandings of Scripture will be made plain so that I might teach truth and not error in all things.
  • That I might bring the lost to salvation through Christ and edify those already won to the Lord.
  • That I would be able to lead Christian parents to teach and train their children apart from the secular and godless government schools.
  • That God would help me to promote home schooling (about the only alternative to public schooling there is).
  • That people would be willing to leave the false teachings and erroneous ways of religion into the simplicity of following Christ according to His will.
  • That the Lord would help me to encourage Godly men and women, boys and girls, to forsake the world and give their heart and life to God’s will in every way.
  • That God would enable me to be a loving, warm, wise, and devoted husband to my wife, Monica.

As I said earlier, we don’t know what a day may bring forth. Presently, there are ominous signs that I could face a wide range of future trials. (E.g., serious financial difficulties, lack of sweet fellowship, and perhaps physical challenges in the coming years, and much more). But God knows best and He is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9a). He will lead, guide, protect, and “strongly support” those whose heart is “completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9). I must depend on His “precious and magnificent promises” and find comfort in His grace (2 Peter 1:4a).

As I said at the beginning of this little letter to you, I have arrived at another “mile stone” in life as I have come to the age of seventy-five. I always thought that such an age might well be called a “ripe old age,” but I don’t at all feel old! God has shown Himself strong from the very beginning. I’ve lived in five different states (mostly Pennsylvania and Texas), I’ve had to deal with lack of employment on many occasions along with various menial jobs, I’ve had to endure housing problems and for some years even lack of a house, and God has allowed me to endure through lack of fellowship—the very fellowship that I longed for, prayed for, and worked for. Yet through it all, the Lord has worked and brought be to this present time and occasion. I look forward toward His continued providence and care!

While I must reckon with the lack of accomplishment mentioned earlier, I must trust that the God and Father still has a future for me in His work for the Kingdom. And I must look forward to the future and His eternal kingdom! “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22b). I look forward toward “the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11). The future can be bright and beautiful as long as we are in His will and involved in His work on earth. Let us sacrifice ourselves and our earthly plans and submit ourselves to His plans, His work, and His will in all we do.

Many of you may be in your youth or, at least, in your younger years. Use your time well so that you will not have the regrets that so many have as they view an earlier life of futility and failing. Refuse to allow the world to squeeze you into its mold (Romans 12:1-2). Rather, surrender yourself, humble yourself, and diligently pursue the race that is set before you (see Hebrews 12:1-2 and Philippians 3:7-14). “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

If you are locked into a world religion where all you can look forward to is reincarnation, consider Jesus Christ, the risen and living Lord! If you are following a fallible human leader, look to Jesus, our Savior and Lord! If you are steeped in a false way and the false doctrine that may be attached to some sect or organization of Christendom, take your Bible and pursue God’s truth that is far different from what we normally think of and live. I urge you to use your life now so that when you come to your final days, you will be able to gratefully thank God for a life well-lived. Come to Him who said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

With sincere love and devotion,

Richard

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