As I write this blog, it is April 25th, 2018…the day before my twenty-fifth birthday.
Wow. When did that happen? Sometimes I still feel like I’m sixteen. There are times of stress where I look for an adult to handle the situation…but, whoops, I am an adult! I have to make my own doctor’s appointments, my own dinners, and now that I’m coming up on four years of marriage, too, I have to figure out what raising a family will look like someday.
Oh, and I can also legally rent a car now. Watch out, pedestrians.
In light of this milestone birthday, I’ve been reflecting on the biggest lessons that God has taught me in the quarter-century He’s had to mold and shape me so far. And since I haven’t yet outgrown that five-year-old’s tendency to overshare, I thought I’d offer some of these lessons to all of you:
- You Don’t Know As Much as You Think You Do
This one has been huge. Whether it’s doctrinal, scriptural, or relational, God has showed me over and over again through triumphs and failings that there is never a stone left unturned in His kingdom. There have been times I’ve felt like I’ve plateaued in my knowledge of the divine—not that I know everything, but that I know enough for that season of life. And then God has a way of turning everything I thought I knew on its head, revealing new mysteries and wonders. He constantly shows me I don’t know as much as I think I do…but what’s out there to learn is beyond my wildest dreams.
- God Works With You As An Individual
As a kid, I loved to learn. But not always in the way my parents insisted we do things! At eight years old, I remember fighting to stay awake as an hour-long teaching CD droned through our stereo speakers. A lot of people outgrow this phase where audio-only teachings put them to sleep. Unfortunately, I never have. But the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve discovered that the ways God does work with me are outside the scope of a teaching seminar or lecture. I learn the deepest spiritual truths by reading, by being out in nature, by the lessons He brings to mind when I’m writing my own novels, and by listening to music. Endless, endless praise music. After twenty-five years, I’ve finally gotten to the place where I’m okay with learning at my own pace, in my own fashion—letting God work with me in the way that allows His wisdom to truly reach my heart.
- God is Never Done With You
Over the course of this first quarter-century of life, there have been times where I’ve felt like I was at the Spiritual South Pole and God was up there where the Northern Lights shine. I couldn’t have felt further away, less worthy, or more like a failure. But consistently and unwaveringly, He’s waded into the subarctic snows of my self-doubt and yanked me out again. His compassions and mercies are endless and so patient, Scripture says they’re new each day. No matter how turned-around, lost, and full of doubt I may become—and no matter how wise I may think I am—God is never done with me. He’s never done teaching me, or rescuing me from my polar pity-parties.
- You Need God More, Not Less, As You Age
I’ve become more and more conscious of antireligious sentiments as I grow older (note to self: stop reading the comments sections on Facebook articles). One of the prevalent remarks I see from nonbelievers is that anyone who believes in God after they hit their teen years is a terrified shmuck who can’t bear to face reality. My answer to that is…well, yeah. Have you seen reality lately? The older I get, the more heavily I find myself relying on the promises and hopes that come from my Father. Not only do I see the world unfolding exactly as He said it would—further solidifying my trust in His words—but I also see His love cracking through the hard shell of a world at spiritual and physical war. I see miracles, I see love, I see the promises of God coming true day by day. With every passing year, the cry of my heart is more to Him than to anything this perverse world has to offer. Time proves nothing so much to me as that the timeless, ageless One is the only hope there is. We need God more as time goes on. Not less.
- Time is a Gift
You may think I’m about to get all morbid and go on a spiel about how every second is precious and mustn’t be wasted because time goes by so fast. While that’s one lesson I’ve learned in my twenty-five years, that’s not the one I want to leave you with. It’s this: time is a gift because if we have willing hearts and flexible vision for our lives, every day is another chance for God to transform us into His image.
Day by day, year by year, one quarter-century after the next, we’re presented with endless opportunities to live the love of God and Christ, to gain a deeper understanding of our Father, to draw closer with the Body of Christ, to make disciples, work wonders through the gift of holy spirit, worship, pray, fellowship, manifest, and grow. Always, always grow.
A lot of people see time slipping away as they age. I’m starting to see time expanding. I know exactly how many years I wasted as a teen chasing earthly love, earthly desires, earthly lessons, earthly outcomes. With the lessons God has taught me, I’m determined to spend the next twenty-five chasing Him with all my might.
Luckily, Jesus runs beside me, my spiritual and earthly families run beside me, and the finish line is pure promise and hope. That sounds pretty all right to me, and leads to the last lesson:
- Never stop running
The race keeps going. So must we. Twenty-five is no time to slow down. Neither is thirty, forty, fifty, eighty, or one-hundred-and-nineteen. Keep running after Him in whatever capacity you can. Embrace this time you have to serve Him. Run toward Him. Learn from Him. Work with Him.
Never. Stop. Running.
And here’s to the next quarter-century.