Yesterday was my birthday. I am now 34 years old. I can remember being a kid, dreaming about being old (in my thirties!). My mom and dad were married young and were young parents, but to me, from my point of view, they were old sages. Now “I am” what I always thought was old. Since I’ve been in my thirties I’ve thought about the fact that guys my age in football are ready to retire, unless you’re a quarterback. I watch pro sports, and the once grown ups who were pros, I am realizing are just kids out on the field. This is weird, I am older than the “old people” that I thought were old when I was a kid…and it doesn’t feel like I thought it would.
I thought being “34!” would feel like I’m responsible and “mature”. But I still feel like I have a long ways to go. I feel like I shouldn’t be my parents age or have the responsibilities that I now have. I feel like a kid in so many ways, and that I need to grow up. But the reality is, I am “34”, married for the past 13 years, have four children and have a full time job. I didn’t have all this when I was 21. Even though I feel like I have a long ways to go, I have come a long ways.
I say all this because I think many of us feel this way in our Christian journey. We all have “those” people we look up to and think, “Dang! They are so mature! Look at the victory in their lives! They have unending joy! I have so far to go!” Although this may be true to some degree in regards to those Christians who truly have journeyed faithfully through life’s joys and struggles, they are still human just like you. They have not arrived, and the reality is, they have more than likely been walking with the Lord much longer than you have.
Let me encourage the struggling Christian right now (which is why I wanted to write this post that came to me while I’ve been studying for finals) who may be saying, “I thought being a Christian would feel different!”. I want you to do something right now. Look back over your life since you’ve been a Christian. Are you different? How have you grown since then? What evidence of God’s grace can you identify in your life? What answered prayers has God answered that you have forgotten about? Think about them for a moment; maybe even write them down. Get a journal and write down all that you can remember that God has done in your life since you’ve been following Jesus; the victories and the defeats that you have grown and learned from.
I had you do that because the Christian life sometimes is full of defeat after defeat and it feels like you are taking one step forward and 30 steps back. We often feel like failures as God is ripping idols from our hands and hearts. It sucks when we are always repenting and asking others for forgiveness for our stupidity (at that moment at least!). It doesn’t seem like we are living the “victorious” life most of the time, at least for those who are honest with themselves, or for those who don’t believe in the prosperity gospel! If we are honest, it seems like growth in our lives is few and far between the daily grind. But this is precisely how I have observed God working in my life.
As I grow up in Jesus and continue to be in His word, I see in Scripture that it is usually the trial, the failure, the doubt, the foolishness, that leads to maturity in the lives of the characters who are captured in Scripture. It is the mess ups in life that bring the maturity. It is this way because confession of sin and repentance is the very way we grow and become more like Jesus. We can’t see it at that moment, but if we will take the time to periodically look back over our lives, we will see God using our (seemingly) crappy life to bless others and sanctify us! Isn’t this crazy?
Change happens in huge ways over a vast amount of time. Every now and then we get that boos of transformation in a particular season, but most of the time, change happens over the long haul. Cheer up defeated Christian. God is patient with you. He loves you and He knew that you’d feel this way and that you needed to read a blog from a “34” year old screw up trying to make himself feel better! But honestly, change will come as you continue to confess sin, turn to Jesus and remain faithful even when you don’t feel it.
We have His word. We have the promise of the Holy Spirit. We are not alone. We have the people who are part of Jesus’ body the church. I know it doesn’t feel like you thought it would, but take heart. Jesus has overcome the world and one day will restore you and the whole world to the way that it was supposed to be. Jesus is faithful even when we are not. And He promises to change His children from one degree of glory to another, even if it doesn’t feel like you thought it would.
Glory is coming! Hold fast to Jesus!