2016 has been crazy.
I’ve laughed a lot and cried a lot.
(I’m not ashamed to confess the latter. I think crying is healthy and necessary.)
In all the bottoms and peaks, I’ve found myself thinking and saying something along the lines of “Man, I can’t wait till _____.”
Fill in the blank with things from, “I can buy a house,” “My acting career takes off,” “I have enough money to fly and visit my parents frequently,” “I can afford a brand new car,” “I’m married,” etc.
Now anyone over the age 40 who’s accomplished in all the above would probably hit me with, “HAVE YOU TRIED SAVING?!” “SET A TEN YEAR GOAL!” “HAVE YOU HEARD OF GOFUNDME?” “I DRIVE A HONDA!” “I MET MY WIFE IN KINDERGARTEN!”
Cool story, lol.
There is nothing more stressful to me than having whale-sized expectations but reeling in an old shoe.
I found myself, more times than I care to confess, super focused on getting THERE. The craziest part is I didn’t even know where there actually was.
With my pedal to the medal towards my future, I remember being less and less satisfied with the present. Like my current life was this weird, tortious portal to future me who’s a regular on a sitcom, drives an all black Jeep Renegade and fathers 2 LL Bean toddlers.
I was listening to a sermon on my podcast app and I remember hearing the pastor (whom I can’t credit due to the fact I forgot who because I listen to way too many podcasts) say, “A majority of us care more about God changing our situation than God actually changing US.”
It was like a dagger to the liver. I remember driving by myself, hearing that and looking around wide-eyed like I’d see someone else who was as impacted by what was just said.
“That’s me! He’s talking about me! I want God to change my situation!”
But my desire for God to change me was like, “Meh.”
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. My favorite breakfasts are the ones with my parents. My dad hits the eject button pretty quick but my mom and I stick in it for the long haul with the greatest talks. I remember a post-breakfast conversation I had with mom in Lake City this past summer. My mom looked at me and said, “Shama, God cares about you more than He does your ministry.”
At the time I was heavily involved in ministry and when she said that it threw me for loop. I couldn’t help but continue to think, “Does God care about me more than EVERYTHING I do or plan on doing?” And the answer is yes. God cares about the you that’s here and now. He knows your future. He wrote it. There are these expectations that linger above us post-highschool/college humans that aren’t checked off in the eyes of others until we hit certain “checkpoints.”
2016 has been crazy.
Here recently, I’ve cried less and laughed more because as dumb and cliche as it sounds, I can’t change the past and I have 0 control of the future. (Matthew 6:25-34)
In the bottoms, I have so much to be thankful for and in the tops, I have so much to be thankful for. I’m guaranteed nothing.
Yesterday I was blessed to have car trouble and I called my usual guy for a tow. He was busy and referred me to another guy. I called him and in 30 minutes, my car was on the back of his truck and we were in the cabin of his 96 Ford small talking it up. He had a sucker in his mouth and he told me he had just turned 80 years old. I brought up some congratulatory phrases on his health and ability to work and he said, “Yeah, they call these the golden ages.” Then he leaned forward, turned down his police scanner and said, “Ain’t nothing golden about it.” I laughed and then realized that I was about to get more than just a $40 tow to my house. He went on to spit mad wisdom on work ethic, U.S politics, and marriage. All while enjoying a LOLLIPOP! I cannot make that up.
Author, pastor, speaker, and my role model, John Piper has a saying that goes, “Life is hard. God is good. Glory is coming.”
Glory is heaven. God’s presence. It is the utmost of magnificence; great beauty, renown, honor, kudos, eminence, acclaim, grandeur, greatness, splendor, etc.
It is so true. You know what’s in the way of glory? Beautiful houses, award-winning careers, family time, new shiny cars, and great marriages.
God’s better than all of that and a bag of chips.
Every opportunity here and now should fuel and propel our longing for there and then. The only peak that matters. The moment I get caught up more about here then there, there’s something wrong.
“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis
We are, my friend. We all are.
The reason that the valleys feel so low and the peaks feel so high is because we were made for greatness! The temptation to put those expectations on anything or anyone on this earth is dangerous, detrimental and disappointing. If you haven’t learned that already, stick around.
We all have a future, some of ours are longer or shorter than others and that’s okay. The truth is that we all have a NOW. A comedian I admire once said, “Sometimes I turn off my music while I’m driving cuz ‘Now’ is playing.” It sounds super meta, but try it sometime.
I no longer just read my Bible for wisdom nuggets or guidance for later. I read it for now. I make plans with friends for later but I’ll try to squeeze them in for something now. I’ll plan a trip to Africa for 2017 but I’ll pick up the phone and blow through a $5 international calling card now. I’m gonna stunt in a drop top Jeep one day, but I’m going to be happy with sliding open the moonroof my 2004 Volvo now. I might minister to bigger crowds later, but I can teach a mini message to some buddies over some chocolate chip waffles, now.
It’s so reassuring to know that I love and know a God who’s big enough to create and manage the universe but yet care for a 24-year-old African-American dude with a couple of talents and a little ambition. The same God who’s very involved with your future is the same God who’s equally involved and cares about you here and now.
His track record? Flawless.
His undeserved, unmerited, unearned grace? New. Every. Day. And it’s beautiful.
“Trust the one who keeps you trusting.”
– John Piper