Life emerges, develops. It doesn’t evade time but rises like a sunrise, over time. That is the exhilaration and, at times, the frustration of human development. My Granddad tried to teach me, mostly by example, to celebrate the past, grow into the future, but also to enjoy this day just as it is.
When we’re young, we just can’t wait to get our driver’s license, be out of school, get married to our dream spouse, or have lots of money.
When we’re old, we so wish we still had the energy of our younger days. We take pills, join gyms, dye our hair, replace our hair, get surgeries to lift us, fill us, and reduce us to be young again.
And as our humanity develops and changes, so our relationship with God also changes. I ask my wife occasionally these days if I seem to have the same intimacy with God that I did when I was teaching classes, mentoring supervisees, counseling a bunch of folks, and considered six hours a full night’s sleep. Her answer is always the same, that I have more, not less, intimacy with the Lord but that I increasingly let God come to me rather than pushing my agenda on God. I once might have heard that as a criticism of my past spiritual life; I now hear an affirmation that real life emerges, grows, develops.
Our life in Christ follows a sequence in two ways:
First, our life in Christ changes from one stage of development to another. Paul speaks of our thinking, speaking, and living as a child, then as an adult (1 Cor 13:11). And the writer of 1 Peter urges us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And an acceptance and celebration of the developmental nature of life in Christ can give us the freedom to enjoy the phase we’re in at any given time. Sarah Bessey once blogged of moms who are advancing in years and are learning, in spite of our cultural preferences, to take joy in the bodies which show the effects of time and childbearing. It wasn’t a fashion statement but a statement that God invites us to dance in life as it is at various stages.
Second, our life in Christ changes from one state of mind to another. Paul invites us to be transformed, to grow up into Christ in all things, by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1,2). A part of that renewal includes enjoyment of the times of our lives in their diversity: times to be angry and times to be gentle, times to be sick and times to be healthy, times for lazy days and times for energetic productivity, times for family and times for work, times for study and times for contemplation. Our lives don’t have to look the same every single day; diverse states of mind and activity enrich our lives.
Life in Christ can be wonderful just as it is and as it’s designed to be right where we are. I recently offered a simple prayer for a friend on a silent retreat, listening only for God’s presence and voice: “Holy and loving Father, raise up my friend I pray not only to become all that you envision for the future but to enjoy all that is right now, in this phase and stage of life. Through Christ our Lord I pray. Amen.” That is a prayer I offer for you as well, as you read.
“This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24).