The debonair Jonathan Goldsmith appeared in Dos Equis beer ads from 2006 – 2016. The actor portrayed quite unusual accomplishments, then ended the video in the presence of beautiful young women. “Stay thirsty, my friends,” was his sign-off. He was “The Most Interesting Man in the World.”

Clever ad campaign. The way Goldsmith won the part was itself interesting. For the audition the screeners gave the ending line, “…and that’s how I arm wrestled Fidel Castro!” They judged the actors on their ability to ad lib an entertaining story. So Goldsmith must have been interesting to win the role. But in reality, most interesting? No.

Someone else won that superlative, the One we just celebrated as walking around alive only a few days after He was executed until dead. How do we peel off the barnacles of history and religion to see this news the way a serious journalist would? First we have to know He really existed, with His life recorded as spanning time between Herod and Pontius Pilate during the Roman Empire. He lived and traveled among places like Bethlehem, Egypt, Jerusalem, and Capernaum, places that still exist.

Next we have to consider what He did. He unpacked mysteries about God and life often in a story, while touching hearts and healing bodies. He was such a winsome man, it’s hard to believe anyone would think otherwise. But He had no use for pious, self-righteous, religious elites who burdened people with irrelevant rules. The result was the same as if you cut donuts on the courthouse lawn in your ragged F-150 last Friday night while holding a Dos Equis. The authorities came after Him.

They bribed a friend to frame Him, conducted a show trial, and executed this “nuisance.” But that was His intent all along. It stops you dead in your tracks that in God’s justice, it was you who deserved what Jesus received. For you to live eternally, eternal God became man. Dorothy Sayers wrote, “We may call that doctrine exhilarating or we may call it devastating; we may call it revelation or we may call it rubbish; but if we call it dull, then words have no meaning at all. That God should play the tyrant over man is a dismal story of unrelieved oppression; that man should play the tyrant over man is the usual dreary record of human futility; but that man should play the tyrant over God and find Him a better man than himself is an astonishing drama indeed.”

So astonishing in fact, that “There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). This most interesting Man is coming back and you’ll get to meet Him!

Finish Well

If you’re like me, more of life is in the past than the future. Fortunately it takes longer to arrive at that halfway mark than it did 100 years ago when the average life span was around 50. Today, if you retire at 65, you could have 20 to 30 years ahead of you. The way you approach aging does not have to be a long slow decline, even if your body says otherwise.

Bob Buford’s book Halftime explores the possibilities of a longer life. He inherited a business, which he eventually sold for enough to fund his retirement. But he didn’t know what to do next. He sought the advice of business guru Peter Drucker who surmised, “You’re in halftime, Bob.” You spend the first half of your life trying to survive and succeed. With today’s U.S. average life expectancy of 79 years, you can spend your latter years moving from success to significance. “Halftime” is when you decide the most rewarding way to do that.

Eugene Peterson’s book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction is about persistence in learning to walk with, and toward God. Lamenting that our society has become so enamored with instant gratification, he reflects on Psalms once sung by pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem. He sees the Christian life as such a journey. Worship, service, and community add significance to life even as we sense our destination drawing nigh. Longevity is your opportunity to model a persistent, growing faith.

The poet Wadsworth penned verses he called “A Psalm of Life.” His life was marked with suffering and tragedy, but that only clarified to him what really matters. Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; Dust thou art, to dust returnest, was not spoken of the soul. His exhortation becomes more poignant as we age. Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime, and, departing, leave behind us footprints on the sands of time; Footprints, that perhaps another, sailing o’er life’s solemn main, a forlorn and shipwrecked brother, seeing, shall take heart again.

How can you be significant, live a long obedience in the same direction, and make your life sublime? Jesus simplified and summarized God’s desire for you. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:35-40). However you answer the question, let it include faith, humility, service, and joy.

Here is another encouragement as you contemplate the frailties of aging. God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Your response? “I will boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Cor. 12:9). May God be with you in this season of your life.

Journey Toward

I recently met a couple who hiked the Camino de Santiago (the Way of Saint James). From the popular starting point, it is a 600 mile trek across France and Spain. Pilgrims (hikers) make their way toward the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The 2010 movie, “The Way” portrays a father (Martin Sheen) who completes the pilgrimage on behalf of his deceased son. It shows the route between European villages traversing pastoral scenes and scanning majestic vistas.

In the last 20 years, the number of hikers grew from 30,000 to 330,000. Reasons number as many as the hikers, but seeking respite from our distracting world must be a common motivation. Writer James Jeffrey admitted, “I’ve been continually perplexed by, and mulled endlessly over, just why the experience was so fulfilling, shocking even, in a dazzling, uplifting way.” He hints at a spiritual answer. “We are designed as humans to look to a horizon and move towards it. But we are forgetting this truth, and it’s destroying us.”

The Appalachian Trail is near our town, and I hear stories of hikers from friends who enjoy helping them on their way. Thru-hikers face a 2200 mile trip and only 1 of 4 attempts are successful. Many AT hikers are on their own spiritual quest, and even if they are not sure what they’ll find, they journey towards it anyway.

This journeying toward a goal or purpose is a key to understanding Jesus. After spending time in Galilee, “He set his face toward Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). The trek from Galilee to Jerusalem is about 100 miles, but the distance was not His challenge. He knew too well what would transpire there. He said, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day” (Matt. 17:22-23). He only confirmed what had already been written, that God requires and provides an atoning sacrifice to reconcile us to our Creator.

You might think that Jesus’ journey ended at the cross, but his empty tomb and post-resurrection appearances say otherwise. Neither did His journey end later when he ascended from Bethany, destination heaven. In fact He still journeys toward his goal as He said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

The question is, what are you journeying toward? You may never hike the Way or the AT, but your yearnings move you toward some horizon. It’s worth noting that every human is created in the image of God, with yearnings that can only be fulfilled in Him. Jesus beckons, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Journey toward Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He Is Risen!

Starstruck Mystery

Our town has the advantage over the big cities. We can see the stars. The ones in the sky, not on the red carpet. The human fascination with the night sky says something about us.

Scientists say the observable universe is 93 billion light years in diameter. In that space are billions of galaxies, each with billions of stars. Yet when you tilt your head heavenward at night, you might see 5000 stars from horizon to horizon. What you see hints at the unseen. It captures the imagination, and makes you feel small. Alister McGrath (“Glimpsing the Face of God”) writes, “Maybe the stars point to something mysterious, something unfathomable, which somehow lies beyond them. Something seems to lie beyond the whispering orbs of the night. But what? And how is it to be known?”

Since the times of Adam, Abraham, and Moses, God has been revealing himself through creation while promising a personal appearance. Yet what human could fathom how the transcendent One, vaster than the visible stars in the sky and the invisible galaxies beyond, could actually care about this speck of dust and the people who live on it? The ancient text says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite” (Psa. 147:3-5).

Someone steps into history. Could he be the Son of Man who was with the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7? Was this the child born to be called Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God in Isaiah 9? Would he initiate the new covenant in Jeremiah 31? Would he bring good news to the afflicted, bind up the brokenhearted, and free the prisoners per Isaiah 61? One day in Jerusalem a gathering crowd thought so. “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest,” they cried out. The skeptical religious leaders demanded an end to it. Jesus said, “If these become silent, the stones will cry out!” It was a pregnant moment. Something was happening far beyond what was visible to the eye, a man riding on a colt over coats and palm branches laid before him. They were worshipping him and he did not object (Luke 19, Matt. 21).

We are fascinated with the night sky because we sense there is more to reality than we see or comprehend. We are attracted to the beauty of light amidst deep darkness. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). Follow that Light and you will know the mystery beyond the stars.