“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4
For one reason or another, I have been spending some time in the last week reading my old journals from almost 30 years ago. I was in my early 20s. I thought I remembered those days vividly. But after reading my journals, I’m not so sure.
Sometimes I come across as something of a thinking young man. And I was engaged in some pretty cool stuff. But – to be honestly frank – I think that much of the time I come across as a know-it-all just daring someone to tell me what to do. I worried about what people would think of me. I fretted about what I looked like. I wondered why so-and-so didn’t talk to me or why someone said what they said to me in some situation.
I wondered why I was doing the things that I was doing. I was impatient. I would do one thing then would move on to the next with not much thought about any ripples being left over from the first. I felt guilty about things – not religious enough, not thankful enough, not appreciative enough, not friendly enough, not working hard enough.
And worrying why other people weren’t doing their part, keeping up their end of the deal, staying engaged, working harder. I seemed to think about ‘why other people’ issues a lot.
(Maybe a typical 20-something?)
So, yes. You can now say, “Yep, that was you. Sometimes a pretty good jerk.”
And I accept it. Humbly and apologetically, I accept it. There was lots of good in my early years, but lots of not so good, too.
And this, I guess, is my point. Perhaps we all get smug in the opinions we hold of ourselves and we think we have it all figured out – “I lived through this and that so I know!” – and we think everyone else should see it our way.
Of course, many of us live with the YOLO attitude – You Only Live Once. What a great excuse to do stupid stuff, right? But, hey, the world is yelling at us in ear-splitting volume when we aren’t able to make our minds up about something – just do it! the world says. Never mind the consequences. And besides, no reason to think that I will need to worry about it tomorrow or some day.
Except that, when the recorder is played back – me and my 30 year old journals – it is embarrassing, painful, sickeningly funny, and actually kind of sad. Sad that I now somehow think that – after all of the years and experiences that I have lived – I have mutated into some kind of super-human-and-God-relationship Einstein.
So here is where I am right now. Life knocked me to my knees several months ago. (I am sure that I will get up again one day and that I will be able to function – it will take some time but it will happen.) From what I can tell from the 30 years since I wrote my journals – it is obvious that I can’t do this on my own. I was trying “as good as I could” 30 years ago. And I was trying “as good as I could” several months ago. Perhaps I am a slow learner, but I must must must learn that I am unable to do this on my own.
I believe it is God’s load – not mine. Paul explained about the selection of either Esau or Jacob in Romans 9 – it was God’s choice! “It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”
I hope I can learn that it is all about God and his mercy – nothing more and nothing less.