Like every young person, I used to get indignant over the idea of losing your passion as you get older, enter the workforce, and so on and so forth as the years go by. Especially when it came to matters of faith, I resented the notion that enthusiasm naturally fades with age.
Sitting in my own bright-eyed and pompous enthusiasm, I felt that childlikeness and its inherent wonder was such a necessary trait in God’s Kingdom that it was inexcusable to put it down in exchange for anything else. But this is a challenge in itself when you’re no longer an actual child.
Every season has its charm, and we learn to embrace it sooner or later, whether we like it or not. That’s what I notice in relationships – that while newness or change is hard at first, we slowly start to get comfortable with where we are all over again.
I mean that in the best possible way, kind of like breaking in new shoes. And as it is with age, we realise we actually like the quietness of hot tea without sugar in the mornings, or the quicker rhythm of our heels on the walk to work, the smaller social circle, the kid snuggled between us and our spouse.
It’s the same for walking with God. Something about a weathered familiarity has begun to appeal to me, an intimacy where you finish each other’s sentences, that kind of thing. Have you ever watched an expert speak on something? In a TED talk, or perhaps a lecture in school? I remember seeing one recently and thinking, I want to be able to talk about God like that.
The face of life has changed so drastically, and it’s easy to say youthful passion has faded – but to me it just looks different. Maybe not as loud, or dramatic, but it’s very much there, just in a different shade.
Passion looks different as we grow older, and I think it would perhaps be wrong for it to look the same. A mature love looks different from a young one. It’s passion that’s grown such deep roots that you might never see them if you didn’t bother to dig.
When I reflect back on the year that’s just past, the marked difference I see between myself in January 2017 and myself now is that I’ve realised that faith is a marathon, not a sprint. We love to say that it’s all about the process, but sometimes we say that because deep down we’re mostly concerned about how the product isn’t turning out quite as we envisioned.
When it truly becomes all about the process, we find ourselves silently – even unthinkingly – living out that truth. Transformation is lifetime.
Sprinting doesn’t leave you much room to give up. You give it a burst of strength and then it’s over. But in a marathon, there’s plenty of opportunity to quit along the way. And it’s the option to quit that makes love valuable.
When we’re lost in God, we always know where we are.
And sometimes I lose my head, lose myself, in the things that happen and the ways I feel. Things that are real and overpowering, just as much as they are momentary. To lose sight of the eternal in a temporary moment might be one of our biggest vulnerabilities in this life.
But the timelessness of God – I want to get lost in that. I need to get lost in that. Isn’t it astonishing? In the middle of time and a perpetual lack of time, we have eternity.
When we’re lost in God, we always know where we are. It’s when we get lost in the world and its flurry of activities that we find ourselves waking up one morning and trying to trace the trail of broken pieces back home.
In life, curveballs will come and the neat boxes we try to contain our lives and testimonies will get smashed – particularly if you try to stuff messes into them that simply can’t be contained forever.
That’s when closing your heart up can happen as subtly – and as certainly – as the change of a season. Sometimes without you even noticing it. And by the time you catch up to it, the sunlight’s melted away and the trees are bare and shivering. You’ve built up a kind of resistance to God that’s such a part of everyday life you don’t even realise it’s happening.
That’s what happened to me, and I argued with God back and forth about it. Argued that I was still listening to His voice, and experiencing His love and joy. (I find it amusing how we all argue with God well aware that He is right, but hoping that somehow that doesn’t make us wrong.)
Till I was sitting on the bus the other day, and I let my heart slow down for a minute, and then felt it thaw into tears down my face, because I could not remember where I had lost myself, or when, or how. I needed Him to show me, pick up my pieces, and bring me home.
It’s time we stopped trying to “master” our faith in our minds and walk in step with the Master instead.
If faith were a series of short sprints, we would soon master the art of it. But the beauty of childlikeness is that a child doesn’t assume what works and what doesn’t, because a child doesn’t even know. And in a gruelling marathon, what worked one mile ago might not work for the next, or work ever again.
Maybe it’s time we stopped trying to “master” our faith in our minds and walk in step with the Master instead.
To enjoy the changing scenery. To not receive grace in doses, but have it as our continual life support – to abstain from cutting corners and scheming up quick fixes and setting deadlines for a destiny that He never once required of us … To cultivate a relationship.
All I desire is a more mature love.
“Glory is not in a hurry.”