Sunday, January 30, 2011

Yet to Come

[I actually wrote this several weeks ago, but wasn't sure if I actually was going to post it. I decided to go ahead and do so. It's not entirely cohesive or coherent, because most of my thoughts have been so hard to make sense of recently, but I thought it might be worth sharing.]

Recently, I was talking with a friend who was staying with my family for a while. We were talking about our various college experiences, and the way that people have always told us that “your college years will be the best years of your life.” And we both joked that if this is as good as it gets, we would hate to see what comes after this.

At the time it was something to laugh about, but even as I laughed I was afraid. It’s a thought that has occurred to me over and over again— what if this really is as good as it gets? What if, from here on out, it’s all downhill? If that is the case then first of all, my life is really rather worthless, because I consider college to be the absolute worst thing that has ever happened to me. And if it’s only going to get worse? Better to give up, if that is the case. The temptation is to ask God what in the world He’s signed me up for, and why I wasn’t asked for my opinion on the matter.

And I think that’s a mindset not confined to myself, or even to college students in general. I think it’s something that occurs to people whenever they find themselves in a situation that’s supposed to be everything they hoped for, but instead still feels empty. I think it’s probable that a lot of people feel like that a few years into a job or even in relationships. We get used to the way things go, and we accept that it’s as good as it’s going to get. And sometimes that’s comforting because it means we don’t have to work for anything else, but I think a lot of the time it’s terrifying. For example, I’ve talked to countless teenagers who felt like they’d never get out of their house, that the family issues they were dealing with would not get better, that where they were would never change.

I think there are some flaws with that idea. I think that it assumes that we are helpless, first of all, and I also think that it leaves the very nature and character of God entirely out of the picture. He is not a God who takes into account only this moment or this season or this year. He is outside of time, and in His hands our lives are not a series of random highs and lows, but rather a song with verses and a chorus and a bridge and a break-down and a build-up. He sees it as that whole... and maybe some of the best moments are dependent on the lows coming first. The most hopeful songs I have ever heard don’t start out that way. You have to get to the bridge usually before you ever see it-- and that’s towards the end of the song.

More than that, I think it is also true that the constantly repeated theme that God works for our ultimate good (because He loves us) means that He never says “that was it. I’m done. Do the best you can now.” That’s not who He is or what He’s about.

And this applies even to the concept that when we become Christians, it is somehow the apex of who we are, right there. It’s like Jesus only died for us in that one moment. I lived that belief for a while, and it didn’t work. I have come to believe instead that the redemption is not just for the 16-year-old kid I was. The redemption is for the 19-year-old college student I am and the 30-year-old I will one day be. He redeemed every piece of us, every moment... because again, I don’t think He sees it in pieces, but rather He sees a whole. I don’t think that the idea that we are “fully known” means simply that God knows our personality.

Some of the most encouraging words I have ever heard are not the ones that tell me that now is the best it’s going to get, that I should suck it up and get over these things that keep me awake at night. The hope is what tells me that these moments are not forever, that there are better moments coming... Brian Reith captures it with the words “now is not forever.”

And so I am going to believe that God is still working, that He is still making things new, that, as Samwise Gamgee would put it, “it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.” Or, while we’re on that vein, I could quote Faramir: “it is but the damp of the first spring rain. I do not believe this darkness will endure.”

The best is yet to come. It’s the story, the song, that God has already written for you, and it’s not over. It’s still in progress, and you can’t see the whole of it. But God’s already seen the ending, and He seems to think it’s beautiful and worthwhile. And that is enough.

Be blessed.
- Elraen, Wandering Star -

And after all that we’ve been through, and after all we’ve left in pieces, I still believe our lives have just begun. Now the past can be outrun, and I know You are the reason-- I still believe the best is yet to come.