“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” –Psalm 16:11
What makes you feel alive? What causes you to laugh with abandon and utter delight? When was the last time you paused long enough from the busyness of life and the chaos of the everyday assault of activity to remember? Go ahead. Take a moment. Remember. Close your eyes. Invite God into your moment and ask Him to show you. I’ll wait.
Welcome back! What popped into your mind? What memory came alive? How long has it been? That’s the tricky thing about time. It sneaks up on us and then is gone. It feels elusive and like we are constantly working against it. We fight the clock in some manner nearly every day. In the midst of the living, have we forgotten what it means to truly live? I am, by nature, a reflective person. I want to consider where I was, what God has taught me, and where I am going. Yet I am also very much a list-maker. I love myself a good to-do list. There is a sense of great satisfaction as I check items off, one by one. Somewhere along the way, I fell victim to the lie that I could relax and enjoy what is going on in my world, once my list is all taken care of. What have I missed amidst the doing, the activity, the to-do list?
Life happens so quickly. It is here, then it is gone. Life passes us by and we are merely passengers without the intentionality of truly living. When I was a young mom with four small kids, the days often felt long but the weeks flew off the calendar. I remember thinking, mistakenly, that I had all the time in the world with my children. It didn’t seem like the time would come for them to move on and live their independent lives. Sure, I knew the day would come. Yet, it seemed so far away. What I missed one day I could surely make up for the next. But that’s not quite how life happens.
Motherhood was my world. I loved being a mom. I felt like it was what I was created to do. When they were little, I loved it. I was exhausted a lot but I loved it. The primary school days and days of middle school were a different type of busy, but we lived it, we loved it, and I embraced it. Single motherhood was not easy, but I found my groove with Jesus and He carried us along. The teenage years, though dreaded by many, were not too terrible for us. We were a team that worked together to get it done. There were fights, disagreements, heartaches, heartbreaks, celebrations, disappointments, and every thing between the extremes, but I found myself rather enjoying those years and the people my kids were becoming. One by one, they grew up. One by one, I shifted from the center to the sidelines, forever their greatest cheerleader in life, wherever God decides to take them.
Life on the periphery of motherhood feels a bit differently than what I once had, who I once was. This transition, this void, compelled me nearer to the heart of Jesus. My role is changing, and the focused energy of my days is as well. Last year, a friend referenced this major life shift as a sort of grieving. At the time, I somewhat scoffed at this, not fully understanding. Yet, that was before one child moved 13 hours away, the first son headed off to college, and the youngest girl began her senior year of college, leaving me with only one kid left at home–and he has the busiest social life of them all. So I brought my question to Jesus–what does life look like for me now? What next?
Every year, Jesus and I dialogue about the focus of the upcoming new year. For 2023, He left me a beautiful word: life. Paul said it well, “For to me, to live is Christ,” Philippians 1:21 (ESV). Again, in Colossians 3:3-4 (NLT), Paul says, “For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.” I love it when Jesus is so sweet, tender, and kind to me. Those moments when He says, “I see you, and I am not finished with you yet.” That’s the gift He gave me with the word “life” for 2023. In the Greek which is the language of the New Testament, life is translated “zoe,” which means unending life, God’s life. Jesus Himself told His followers in John 10:10 (ESV), “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus came to bring life that matters, life that doesn’t lose purpose or fade as the years pass by.
Truly living is found in the simple moments, the unexpected joys, such as the playfulness of puppies, the deer grazing in the meadow, the sky as the sun sets. In those moments where you know Jesus is speaking His love over you. Life is found in the relationships we have with others. Our families of origin, our church families, our coworkers, our friends, our immediate families. Yet there’s so much more than that. Life is Jesus, our relationship with Him, the mission He has set before us right where we are. Life changes, sure, but Jesus doesn’t. As long as there is breath in our lungs, He has a purpose for us. The landscape of our mission field may change, but Jesus wants us to truly live during our time here on earth. It is all a precursor to fully living in eternity with Him.
Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, had much to say about life in the book of Proverbs. “My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying,” Proverbs 3:1-2 (NLT). Again in Proverbs 4:13 (NLT), he says, “Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life.” Knowing, keeping, guarding, and obeying God’s instructions give us life, show us the path of life, and teach us how to truly live.
What does this mean for me and for you, friend? For me, it is a notebook to write down everything God is teaching me from His Word about life in 2023. It is not waiting until the to-do list is complete before I enjoy the moments. Life is about Jesus, amidst the ups and downs. Good days will come, along with the bad. Seasons of life will change, and so will we. But God’s promise of life never does. I will enjoy the days as they come, rather than wait until all is perfect. I will not take for granted the beauty and the gift of the moment. I will live in Jesus’ will for my day and walk in obedience to His Word. He promises abundant life. He promises the joy of His presence. He promises to satisfy us. Will you trust Him to strengthen you to fully live, as you surrender your life to Him? Life is found in Jesus.