While eating my bologna sandwich at lunch the other day, I glanced through a Christian book and retail catalog. As I flipped pages, I noted the following assertions:
Live the life of your dreams
A groundbreaking journey of self discovery
Experience the uncommon life
A no-regrets life
Find the fulfillment you’re missing
Power and purpose and true happiness can be yours!
Keys to improving my life to become a better me
Seven secrets, ten strategies, thirty days, 40 minutes, ten steps, etc.
I’m not picking a fight with a particular title or author. I’m just amazed at how easily the Christian life is boiled down by some to a series of secrets and steps. So many titles promise so much: happiness and fulfillment, power and purpose.
It seems to me I have little of those things.
Rather, my life seems messy, and I’m not just talking about the state of my home (though certainly an apt description). I find myself in a place I had not planned on. This is not (necessarily) the life I’ve always wanted. I’m not living the life of my dreams (who is?). I’m not where I thought I was going even six months ago.
Listen, the life of my dreams would include a perpetually clean and organized home, beautifully decorated with a pool in the backyard, children who obey readily and rarely watch tv, a growing and vibrant ministry, and maybe even a book deal or two.
Instead, I am an exhausted mom who yells too much and struggles with melancholy, a mediocre housekeeper, occasional blogger, and Bible teacher currently without a class.
What does that mean for me? For my faith? Did I read the wrong books and somehow miss the secrets that aren’t really secrets if they’re published for all the world to purchase and read?
Do I sound cynical? Maybe I am. But surely you would agree life is not always “fulfilling” as we wish.
Just the other night, I heard a Bible teacher speak of the implications of missing our callings. Our calling is where we find fulfillment, she insisted. You may think me mincing words (and you would not be the first!), but I do not think it is our callings that fulfill us. It is the Lord Jesus.
Our callings may in fact lead us through the fiery furnace of refining or the deep water of doubt. Look in the Bible; how many of the Lord’s chosen lived the life they always wanted? Check out Hebrews 11:35-40 just for an example.
Yeah, so I am a bit cynical. But I see that life is not simple. It is complicated. And hard. And messy. And more than 7 steps or 5 secrets. It will not always be the life I wanted or the dream I desired. It may be more; it is often less, particularly if I define my dreams in terms of ease and comfort, prosperity and accomplishment.
As believers, our hope stretches far beyond the confines of this world. We hope in Christ, believing His promises of an eternal weight of glory to which nothing else–nothing else!–compares. Let us persevere, whether we soar with the eagles in the life we always dreamed of or whether we trudge through the life that is messy and hard and complicated. Truly the best is yet to come!