Making These Years Count
I’ll be turning 57 in a few days. Sounds dangerously close to 60. What scares me about this is not so much the getting older. It’s the ever-lingering question, am I doing enough? Am I using the resources I’ve been given in this life to make much of Him? Yes, I know full well He loves me not for what I do but for who I am. He loves me because He made me and He has my heart and nothing I do can make Him love me more – or less – than He already does.
But I also know I was put here to do things. Not to whittle my days away on Pinterest and Netflix and Instagram. There’s a hurting, broken world of people out there crying out for someone to see them, to hear them, to offer some hope.
“Christianity is a fighting religion. It thinks God made the world… But it also thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
I got to spend some time this past week with my niece, Megan. She and her husband are in the process of walking away from all that is comfortable and known in their lives to be missionaries in Asia. Laying aside their fears and uncertainties because, as Megan said to me, “Jesus is worth it.”
I’ve been following the blog of an 18-year-old from Maine who is moving to the Philippines to be the director of a women’s health clinic. She went straight from high school to birthing babies and caring for the poorest of the poor.
When I hear stories like this I feel a mixture of awe, inspiration and self-doubt. My life looks so comfortable and predictable in comparison. Is it too comfortable? I ask myself – and God – this question frequently. But one thing I’ve learned in these 57 years is the futility of playing the comparison game. God didn’t call us all to move to a foreign country. Many of us are called to stay right where we are and be His hands and feet in our homes and neighborhoods and workplaces.
I look at my dad, who just turned 80 and has faithfully served Meals on Wheels to shut-ins for 23 years. He donates his time to the local mission and Kiwanis and his church and only God knows what else because he doesn’t talk about his service. No one is writing stories about him because he serves quietly and cheerfully behind the scenes. But it doesn’t matter because he is doing his part to set the world right.
I see Amber and Toby faithfully opening their home to foster babies, willingly enduring the heartbreak and untold sacrifices time and time again because they believe these children are worth it and Jesus is worth it. I hear from moms of special needs kids who are laying down their lives daily – and so often feeling forgotten and unseen – but carrying on nonetheless because their children matter and they have a hope greater than this world.
Part of our calling, perhaps the hardest part, is to go against the grain of what our society tells us we should be doing. If you’re a millennial, culture tells you – depending on which culture you’re listening to – either to hurry up and become an adult or to delay it for as long as possible. If you’re in your 30s or 40s, culture says make as much money as you can, build your career and your image and your following, buy the biggest house you can afford, give your kids every experience and every advantage you can give them.
If you’re in my age group, culture says Enjoy! You’ve earned it! Focus on your retirement plan and your bucket list. See the world. Take it easy. Coast.
But you know what? I don’t want to coast. Nothing wrong with a 401K or a bucket list or seeing the world. But I don’t want to finish out my days on this earth living a status quo, sensible, entitled life. My goal is not to slide gently into old age and heaven with the smallest risk and cost possible, like the third base runner who gets to casually jaunt his way to home base because the last batter hit the ball into the stadium and there’s no rush, no urgency. It’s so much more thrilling when he’s running his heart out, when the game is close and he feels the urgency and he’s giving it all he’s got.
Friend, my challenge is this. Find your race – whatever God has set before you as a way of “putting the world right again” – and run your heart out! And watch for me on this race. I hope our paths cross somewhere along the way.