As I sat in my office today, at lunch, a staggering thought pressed upon my mind, “This has been the greatest year of my life.” For clarity, the other years have not been “bad” but the last 365 days have produced such momentous events that the year of 2017 will bear an indelible mark on my life. And just like any great year, or bad year for that matter, it always comes with many lessons learned. Here are my top three “quick” reflections from the greatest year I have experienced yet…
- Time flies, it really does. That’s not new. My parents have been telling me that for the last 25 years, but for the first time I feel as if I am actually experiencing it. I have now been married for six months, navigated the first five months of my first church ministry staff position, graduated with my bachelor’s in Science, and survived my first semester of studies in Christian theology through a Masters in Divinity. About a month ago I found myself lost in thought one evening grappling with the reality of the preceding statements. I just couldn’t grasp it, it feel as if those precious moments of life are just whisking away, right in front of me. The pages on my calendar just fly away at lightning speed. It was a surreal moment. Yet, I probably looked a little silly getting teary eyed over the previous six months of life accelerating by at an unprecedented rate at the ripe old age of 25. Even in my youthful ignorance I have learned a grand thing: time flies, it really does. What can you do? Nothing, mere humans are bound by time and so is everything around us. The clocks on the wall and our pocket calendars are our mortal enemies. You can’t stop time, but you can enjoy it. I’m trying to live this one out currently. I’m trying to not plan so much into a hopeful future that I forget the beauty of the present. I’m trying not to whine so much at the past that I miss the majesty of the present and the joy of a future. There’s nothing wrong with planning for the future or reminiscing in the past; I would say it’s healthy in fact. I’m young, I could be awfully wrong but I’m just trying to maximize the present. To actually be present in the present because… well you know, time flies. It really does.
- I’m not nearly as immortal as I thought I was. Forgive me for being morbid. One day I will die and be buried six feet under and began to decompose. Several months ago, I decided haphazardly to play with the blood pressure cuff at a Pharmacy. I say “play” because I wasn’t seriously checking it. What could be wrong with a 25-year-old? I’m immortal! Not really. Much to my surprise, I learned that my blood pressure was high. Let me be clear, I have a medical background, it wasn’t just a smidgen high. It was high enough that I actually considered going to the hospital. However, apparently there is a thing called white coat syndrome where an individual will stress out to such an extreme that they affect their physiological readings. I reasoned that was the issue since I don’t display any additional signs for chronic high blood pressure. However, that aroused a staggering thought in my mind: I’m nearly as immortal as I thought I was. In all reality, it was a foolish thing for me to even think in such a way for according to James our life is like a vapor in the wind. I am a flower quickly fading, even at the age of 25. I’m not trying to be overly morbid but I have learned a valuable principle through this humorous story. I have a limited amount of time. I don’t have forever on this earth. There will come a day of departure. I am learning there are really only two ways to do life, you can work for an perishable crown such as riches, power, and luxury or you work for that imperishable crown by serving the Lord Jesus. You may think it’s humorous and odd that I would conclude this from a false high blood pressure reading, but it’s changing the way I think about life. I have a limited amount of time left to serve Christ here, because on this earth I’m not nearly as immortal as I thought I was.
- It’s really not all about me. Shocker, right? I think the Lord is using multiple areas in my life to teach me this principle. Marriage is an easy example. If you think it’s all about “you” then find a spouse. They may put up with your narcissism for a few weeks but a day of reckoning will come. For clarity, it’s not that my wife degrades me or anything like that. If you know my wife personally then you know that the Lord gifted her with a kindness and compassion that is rare among humanity. My wife didn’t have to tell me to stop the narcissism. I just realized that my love for her is so great that her needs come before mine. In my heart, my wife is more important than I am. I don’t say that passively, that’s not just an automatic easy choice every day. Human depravity wagers its’ argument each day for my superiority, that I am the most important human being in the universe. Yet the grace of Christ that is at work within me reveals the truth: it’s really not all about me. Even as I celebrate the advent season and dwell upon the significance of that first Christmas so many years ago, I recognize this truth with a vivid fierceness. Though I had nothing to give, God gave His son to me. I am reminded that Christ stepped down from heavens’ glory into a manger of humility. This Christmas season I grapple with that knowledge that Christmas Day was The Lord’s first steps towards the cross, where He gave His life for me though I had nothing to offer Him. It is this grace that compels, this love, this Jesus who reminds me of this truth. It’s almost ironic that in the greatest year of my life I would learn that it’s really not about me at all. It’s about Him. It’s about His glory. It’s about His kingdom. Three reflections and I could give a hundred more, but that’s the only viable conclusion to be drawn.