Thursday, January 15, 2015

Turning 60 and claiming my consecration discount

Celebrating January birthdays in the Samaritan's Purse communications department: Ron Pettit, Randy Bishop, blinking me, and Nora Gaylord.
     As of Sunday, January 18, Kevin Costner and I became consecration bargains. It's our 60th birthday. 
     The Bible says in Leviticus 27 that a man's consecration vow costs 50 shekels from age 20 to 60, but only 15 shekels after he turns 60. More on that in a moment. 
     When I reach milestones in my life, I like to look for corresponding landmarks in the Bible. 
     When Jesus was about thirty, he began his public ministry by turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana. On my 30th birthday, my family treated me like an old man and made me ride a wheelchair into a McDonald's birthday party in Greenville.
     Forty years was the time Israel wandered in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land. Later, "the country was quiet for forty years in the days of Gideon"a refreshing thought on godly leadership from Judges 8:28. I spent my 40th birthday reporting from Clemson's Littlejohn Coliseum, where Bob Sura of Florida State hit a last-second three-pointer to beat Rick Barnes' "Slab Five," the upstarts who had won at Duke the week before and driven 47-year-old Coach K into a sabbatical. 
       I turned 50 in Sri Lanka, on assignment with Samaritan's Purse following the terrible Indian Ocean tsunami. During that trip I found this nugget in Numbers 8:25: "and at the age of fifty years they must cease performing this work, and they shall work no more." That verse refers specifically to Levites, not journalists, but it does challenge anyone who says retirement is not in the Bible.
     Now I'm 60 and thinking more about consecration than celebration. I'm not even sure what a consecration vow involves, and I'm sure I've never paid for it. I'm not wrapped up in the old-covenant laws of Leviticus, which forbid barbecue and bacon, among other things. I believe that's covered in the new covenant of Jesus, who has fulfilled the law and pre-paid for my consecration, among other things.
     Consecrated means set apart, or made pure. It doesn't come cheap—under either covenant. Assuming the shekel of the sanctuary equaled a typical month's wages, my consecration vow at 59 would cost over four years of earnings. Since turning 60, I get a 35-month senior citizen discount.
     One other Bible passage mentions sixty years. 1 Timothy 5:9 says, "Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man."
     It's good to know Mary will need me around for at least a little while longer. 

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