I have reached my 70’s! That sounds ‘old’ to me. The fact that I am nearing the Finish Line is obvious. So, I find myself frequently looking backwards over my life, trying to unravel its complex knot. From this vantage point I ask myself, “Who am I?” Or more to the point, “Who have I become?” “What is in my heart?” “What constitutes the essence of my being?” – “Who is Mark Baird?”
I am certainly not the man I was in my youth. I did not stay the same. There were a lot of improvements to be made! Life has been a continuous line of challenges. Often, I have felt like the mythological Sisyphus, who was condemned by the gods to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll down every time it neared the top, repeating this action for eternity. – But I never gave up! I still haven’t. I know that I am a far better person now, then when I began. (And yet, I am acutely aware of areas that still need repair.)
I am by nature a Helper. Happiness for me is making the life of someone else better. This has always been the case. I have been a schoolteacher, a sports coach, a pastor, a marriage counselor, an employer, a philanthropist, a performer, and an author. I have endeavored to create a life of value to my neighbors, community, nation, and to the world. — Along the way, I have often failed to fulfill my higher aspirations too. I carry the baggage of many regrets. There are a myriad of things I wish I had never done, or that I could do over!
There is one thing that has been the foundation and the impetus to my life ever since my earliest youth. No matter what heartbreaks or hardships I have encountered, I have had a Guiding Light. I believe in the God of the bible. No matter how often I have fallen down, He has always picked me up and given me the strength to continue going forward. And He has been my conscience, always showing me the right and honorable path. – Therefore, like my hero, the Apostle Paul, as I near the close of this life, I can say with him, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippines 3:12-14)