I typically take time to reflect on the previous year before bringing in the new one. This time around, in addition to considering events and milestones, I’ve been thinking about the general direction in which my life is headed since I recently turned 25 and it seems that time is now running away from me at an unprecedented rate. Prior to about 6 years ago, I had no idea what I wanted out of this life and I was, more or less, wandering around. The only way I can describe the direction I’m headed in now is by saying that deep within me a longing to be ruled by God and to be a full-fledged citizen of His kingdom is rapidly intensifying.
Sometimes, this longing leads me to be tempted with arrogance, thinking I am somehow better than others who are not heading in the same direction (or who use different means of travel to get there), but it takes increasingly little time for me to become (painfully) aware of these thoughts, immediately recognizing their treachery. The only solution I know of is to quietly acknowledge them before God and replace them with an expression of thankfulness for how good He has been to me along the way. Perhaps David’s sacrifices of thanksgiving began the same way (Psalm 116:17).
Quite frequently, difficult circumstances arise that leave me feeling powerless. The worst are those that are at least partly my fault. I am regularly left wondering how I could have ended up at such a dead end (or so they seem) and if perhaps I have just been fooling myself all along by thinking I am so different from everyone else. And this must be a good thing because, after all, I am not so different from everyone else. I may be more inclined to ask questions, and I am certainly dissatisfied with the readily available answers that arise from human logic and reasoning (or, dare I say, propaganda), but all of us together are searching for meaning, for beauty, and for a purpose, and none of us is exempt from challenges along the way.
I am convinced that the meaning, beauty, and purpose I am searching for are found in my heavenly Father, revealed to me in His son Jesus. His faithfulness is eternally undeniable. His wisdom is shockingly effective. His presence (Spirit) and words are deeply satisfying. The only problem (if you will) is that I am always left desiring more, but, in contrast to all other pursuits, I always find the more that I have desired. And while yet another level of more is always waiting to be found, the portion I have already received always remains with me and never disappears. It is like God is building my humanity back up to its original likeness in Him, but I am always eager to get on with the project. I am sure His eagerness supersedes even my own, but He shows me how He Himself enjoys each moment along the way, taking time to look around and back at the view behind while also looking ahead at the much anticipated peak that must be reached.
I am very excited for 2017 and what lies in store for Victory Life, for my family, and for myself, but I am thoroughly enjoying the “hike” itself now in ways I never have before. I believe this is because I have finally seen an unfamiliar beauty, similarly to my first trip to Hawaii nearly 10 years ago that resulted in a newfound love for hiking and nature. These things previously seemed entirely uninteresting to me, even though I grew up spending much time with my family in the spectacular Canadian Rockies. It wasn’t something new that I saw in Hawaii that led to this; rather, it began with simply taking the time to look more closely during that trip,
Finally noticing a beauty that had been there all along, one that I thought I already knew about but really didn’t.
Father, protect me from presumed familiarity towards you which is, truly, unfamiliarity (1 Corinthians 8:2). Instead, teach me to gaze upon your beauty – both vast and infinitesimal – with eyes of wonder and love. And lead me to the quiet manger scene this Christmas season: the profound but simple and unnoticed beginnings of a 30-year journey into the world of broken humanity by a God who not only contains patience, hope, and joy in title and theory but has expressed them to the full in a humanity just like my own. As Jesus is, so am I in this world, and unless I too become like a little baby in a manger, quiet and unassuming, humble and dependent, I cannot enter the kingdom I am striving for.