adulthood is a long, slow climb.
it’s an adventure full of mountains and valleys but nobody said that climbing was always fun. and even the fun parts are draining on your body, climbing up through brush and over stone. there is the rush, the push to get to the top of the next big thing, that saps away at you when you have to stop for breath.
adulthood is terrifying, because it’s the prospect of doing everything on your own, all at once. no takesie-backsies, there is no margin for error: every action is written on a page, and the world is watching you.
if faith is something that demands only boldness, only shouting and great acts of courage in front of a thousand faces and a hundred thousand other faces watching you on television screens and cell phones, then where is true adulthood? if life is meant to be sprinted, full of pounding energy and the next big thing and doing bold things for the God who spoke loudly enough for mountains to spring into existence, then where is your faith? where is your adulthood full of bold deeds so that the world cannot deny the Creator?
i used to feel small–though small i am, compared to the november sky–because i did not turn mountains on their heads. the God who lives in me, and gave me my Name, surely can: but my faith was not a momentous, teeming category of my mind. i’ve been on mission trips. i’ve seen people catch hold of the light, i’ve seen God protect in the craziest of circumstances: He is not insignificant.
but where i found God the strongest was in the details, like laughing as there is enough change jammed in the vending machine to buy two powerades, even to the last quarter lying on the mat, unseen until that last moment. i could see His weaving when He led me to Oglethorpe, to speak that one time for five minutes in front of the board of trustees about stories. i’ve seen Him when all hell seemed to break loose, when my best friends’ family snapped and suddenly jetsam was awash everywhere. He’s been spinning a tale I can’t always see, from not drowning a full six times to pulling us out of danger in the middle of foreign countries.
He’s surged and roared before in the storms, pounded loudly through my arteries, but where i found Him the most, or perhaps just the most unexpectedly, was running through every capillary in my fingertips. daily by daily, bread comes right on time regardless of whether i worry myself frantic or not about being hungry in the future. ten pages are written in four days. art supplies are on sale. my mom gives me a hug right when i need it. He is never not at work.
if there’s a God who cares about $3.50 worth of powerade, as well as your soul, then maybe adulthood is more than sprinting. there is grace for the falling, to get back up again. adulthood is more than a challenge, a race to prove yourself: there is a slow filtering of actions as well. you can’t simply do great things for God by ‘living boldly.’ your job is not to justify the existence of God, it’s to follow Him and only Him.
you cannot do everything: you cannot juggle fifteen different things at once, the first, third, or even the ninth time. you cannot unlearn the barriers you created within yourself against hurt as soon as you resolve to try once again. you cannot learn how to trust the voices of the people that care instead of the lies perfectly the first time you try. there are skinned knees in adulthood as well as childhood.
every fiber of your being might be screaming in the moment that you should know better by now. sometimes, Israel probably felt the same way: back and forth, forgetting as soon as they had learned, and kicking themselves for the pain of bitter tears not being enough to stamp the desire for perfection strongly enough in their hearts. performance can be a bitter game to play.
perhaps we need to remember something from childhood, once again: the delight in repetition. you learned to walk same as i: by doing it over and over. sometimes, even as babes, we might have decided not to try, but eventually we did. we got back up, and we picked our bicycles back up too. we learn to drive again after our first car accident, and we do that a little more wisely. God sees us and our struggles, and through Christ sees our weary, pounding, exhausted hearts as beautiful.
faith is a steadiness inside your soul, stretching to even your fingertips if you let it, if you breathe the right air. in, out. discard the lies: for the God who is big enough to orchestrate the sky and redeem your soul is faithful to extend grace. adulthood often weakens the strength of repetition: maybe we need ever more to cling to His daily faithfulness, wave after wave rolling over us like the dawn crawling and spilling into the sky from the Sun.
climbing is wearisome. it will burn out your calories, knees and your heartbeat if you let it. “it isn’t the load, it’s the way you carry it,” c.s. lewis wrote, and when you have multiple loads, the same thing still applies.
not only that, feeling burned out is lonely. you want to be curled up with another person, to feel safe and recharged, but you also want to cocoon away from the world. it’s the struggle and the tiredness of not being whole, not being enough, and not being satisfied with any water in the world.
israel probably felt lonely, sometimes. the first israel definitely did, wandering, running, always trying to get ahead. he fought with God, fist for fist, and he was broken so that he could no longer run.
but he could walk.
if your faith is like blood to your body, pumping through your veins fast or slow, it needs water. it craves it. your body can learn to survive in a state of dehydration, but once you begin to fill it things change. your eyes ache less. your weariness ebbs, and drops down as you feel more alive. even your veins are healthier.
Hosea writes to the new israel, the israel that was more than one person, and scribes hope among pain and swords:
come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
after two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
let us acknowledge the Lord;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
as surely as the sun rises,
He will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth
there is water for the living who call upon their God. come walk in the rain of His mercy as you climb the mountain, slowly, with more than the strength of your bones. He sees your struggle and calls your heartbeat pretty; let Him fill the well of your faith.