I try to hold on tight but there’s no stopping time –Revive: Blink
In the last 5 years, I’ve lost both grandparents, grieved with friends when they lost family, watched marriages crumble, saw a tragic miscarriage, saw another friend have a very premature baby, watched as a prison sentence was handed down, seen marriages dissolve, businesses and ministries crumble and careers end. Everyone I know has been to hell and back so often we all have frequent flyer miles. Things have improved for me personally. I’m not as afraid of what will come next, though deep down, I sometimes wonder what horrible thing awaits me as I turn this corner. Wouldn’t it be great to just hit the pause button when life is good, hold on tight, and never let go of this moment? But there’s no stopping time… Why is it? I reflect back on a conversation with my good friend Jeff who observed so many guys get old and confused. They lose their grip on life, and just become dazed and confused. Defeated by life. But can you really blame them? I’ve often joked that the reward for practicing patience is the chance to practice it more. But that’s more sad than funny. The same seems to be true with every other obstacle in life. The reward for growing through the grieving process, is the chance to grieve again. Probably even more deeply and painfully. The reward for getting through that breakup is another breakup. The reward for one financial difficulty is another, even larger one. Who wouldn’t go a lifetime through this and just give up? If you can make it through a lifetime of such suffering and still have an upbeat, positive attitude, maybe you should be carted off to the loony bin instead of winning an optimist prize! What’s the reason? What’s the purpose of all of it? First, we must recognize that it was Never Supposed To Be This Way. Sin entered the world, separated us from God, gave us death, crime, poverty, corrupting what God made perfect. We have the sense that something is wrong … because something really is wrong. We look at the world, and it is like a dim, dark reflection—a poor imitation—of the real world we were created for. A world of community with each other and with God. Something is wrong with this world. We are weary of this world because we were not made for this world. Second, we must realize that we were created for each other and for God. You can probably look in your life and realize that all of your problems stem from one or two things: problems you have with other people and problems with God. “I just don’t believe in all that God stuff.” “God is unnecessary. We know the happenings of the universe. God may be there, but He’s just not needed in my life.” “If only my boyfriend didn’t cheat on me.” “I’m so sick of my family!” “Bahumbug!” Really, if you didn’t have to deal with God or other people, our lives would probably be a lot simpler! And when such fundamental institutions in our lives have so many cracks—we are social creatures after all—we have to wonder about that. Name the things that would suddenly make life much better for you. I’m betting, at the very root of it, you would have to say that for life to get better, a lot of relationships would have to improve. You would reconcile with some people, grow stronger in relationship with others, and maybe settle that whole God thing. You feel relational tension because relationships, at the core of it, are all we’ve got. If you forget this fact, you will grow old, dazed and confused by life. A spectator in your own life. Third, we STEP UP. Relationships fail due to disrepair. You can’t fix the world, but you can fix up and repair the relationships in your life. For one thing, let’s focus on our relationship with God. God understood the need for reconciliation and wasted no time in devising a plan. God sent Jesus while we were still in our sins and of no use to us. Fixing our relationship with God is not hard, He’s done most of the legwork! He has prepared in advance a way for us to become reconciled with Him. Also, relationship with others. This one’s harder. Much harder. You might have to swallow your pride (careful you don’t choke!) and apologize. You might have to accept an apology and really forgive. We should be willing to fight to protect these relationships like a mother bear fights to protect her cubs. A soldier on his own is extremely vulnerable. Don’t go it alone. Don’t let stupid things like petty gossip and jealousy interfere. Be willing to fight for what is right. Though life beats us, berates us and pushes us at every opportunity, we must not give up. We must determine to get up again, brush ourselves off, and lean in on our community. Fourth, we know that this world will never be perfect. It’s better together, but it’s still messy, difficult and imperfect. It’s a poor imitation of what is to come. But if we allow our troubles and difficulties to tie us closer together and closer to God, we’re going to be the masters of our trouble, and not the other way around.