Outside of Society’s Box

Ever since the new year commenced, my impending birthday keeps floating through my unnamedconsciousness. I don’t remember this happening in my 20s, but each year of my 30s seems to remind me what milestones I haven’t recorded. Middle-America, mid-sized-city culture dictates marriage and children; that’s the yardstick, and in that sense, I don’t measure up. I wish I could dismiss this cultural norm out of hand as great but not for me and happily carry on with fabulous adventures; that seems easier than hoping for what’s not yet reality.

I ran across a quote by Amy Carmichael recently: “It is a safe thing to trust him to fulfill the desires which he creates.” So those hopes of mine get to stay and not get squashed down. Those hopes are also not in charge; they may be present, but God is actively working in my life right now and I’m doing things I love—I’m not just killing time, waiting. I can’t live in contingency; my life is the present, and it’s good. God is enough, and when I forget that, he finds a way through to my inner dialogue and reminds me.

The most recent sermon series at City Pres, about the life of Abraham, tripped over one of my sticking points week after week: age. Abraham was an old man, yet God promised him descendants as numerous “as the dust of the earth” and the stars of the sky (Gen. 13:16 and 15:5). Sarah was 90, but God said she’d have a child. This couple waited decades for God to fulfill his promise, and he did. “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” God himself asks in Gen. 18:14. God not only made this promise to Abraham and Sarah, he reminded them several times throughout their lives—he had not abandoned them.

To me, this is about much more than having children at age 90. It’s a reminder that God can do anything, and he’s active in his children’s lives and the world. What’s more, societal norms don’t get to define Christians. Society doesn’t get to say that because I’m not a wife or mother now that I never get to be one; with God, anything could happen, no matter my age.

God doesn’t act within society’s timeline or structure for life. We can start new careers, develop new passions and ministries, make new friends, and forge adventurous directions at any point in life as we walk with God. He has done some pretty crazy, awesome things, and he takes so much joy in it. We’re his partners in this, so he invites us into a life of love, care, and adventures. How much better than a formulaic life! Even when we don’t feel like we fit in or when life looks different than we dreamed. If God is involved, nothing seems formulaic; even the norm bears witness to him. Society’s measuring stick isn’t ours unless we errantly claim it—God gets to shape the direction of our lives, and he believes we’re his priceless, adored daughters and sons. We are not defined by lack—instead, our Savior “came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). And if our lack is a weakness, that’s where God can be strong in our lives; we don’t have to fear.

God is love, and he is trustworthy with our dreams and our lives. He is my rock, but sometimes I have to remind myself of his goodness. Jesus died to save us; he gave us powerful examples of living out love on this earth; he is with us now and always. When I remember who he is and what he’s done, it’s easy to hope in him and trust in his promises that aren’t yet reality. My hopes float gently into perspective when my thoughts are centered on God. In those moments, the best part is being present with God—a sweet and peaceful refuge—regardless of tomorrow. God is here with us now, and he is good.

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