Live while you are alive. (Patch Adams)
Each of us has a life … the life we were given. We didn’t choose our life. But I guess the issue is, “Are we living while we are alive?” Or, are we waiting till “things settle down,” or, “we lose ____# pounds,” or, “the kids grow up,” or ????, or ????, or ????.
“Things settling down” was always my trap in my early years of adulthood. But things don’t ever settle down, do they? Not for long anyway. They just change. And then the cycle begins again, and so then we never really embrace the life that is ours. So this is what I eventually realized: I need to …
…live the life I have, not the one I wish I had.
Why do we live so much of our lives rejecting our own life? How nuts is that?
We are each on a unique journey. No one else can live our journey for us, and we can’t (and shouldn’t try to) live someone else’s. So I am determined to live mine while I’m alive. How about you?
And because we are each on a unique journey, each of us has a story to tell. It’s a story fraught with the mundane and sublime and all else in between. Our journey-stories are filled with crisis and adventure, some of which we would rather skip. But many times, it’s not our choice. Those times choose us.
Yet if we know a God who is sovereign over all the affairs of men, a God in heaven who has come to earth, a God who indwells the souls of His children, then everything takes on meaning whether immediately understood or not. Nothing is chosen by fate or is random but meaningful. Because after all is said and done, everything in the physical world is just a picture of a deeper spiritual reality. So that makes our journey one of discovery.
Author Anne Lamott says that some have chosen “to see the world sacramentally, to see everything as an outward and visible sign of inward, invisible grace.” (bird by bird, p. 100-101) Or as the Holy Spirit once said to my heart many years ago, “Everything is a picture (metaphor) of a deeper spiritual reality. You just don’t have eyes to see it all yet.” But little by little, I have been seeing and understanding. There are truths about God and us all over each of our lives. But maybe you haven’t had eyes to see it all yet either … maybe, not until now.
While preparing to teach a new Bible study group last year, I listened to a podcast by an older, well-respected brother in the Lord as he shared his life story in great detail. I was so inspired to hear this humble servant tell of the Lord’s working in his own life through many years that I decided to do the same.
As I was coming to the first class meeting, the Lord brought to mind another journey-story, that of the children of Israel through the desert. Finally after forty years of wandering through the desert wilderness, they were getting ready to cross into the Promised Land. It was then that the Lord told them to set up a memorial as they crossed over the Jordan River: twelve stones of remembrance, one for each of the tribes of Israel.
As I reflected on this story, barely remembering the details, the Lord spoke to my heart. “This is your outline for your story, Jan. You have ‘Stones of Remembrance’ too – they were the significant spiritual truths that I taught you about Me and about yourself and our relationship. And all of these were through very mundane as well as critical, physical and/or relational yet spiritual experiences in your very real, mundane, crisis/adventure, choice-ridden, deeply spiritual life. Share it that way.”
And so as I did, I found that the ladies in my class began to realize throughout the time we were meeting that they had “remembering stones” too. Some of theirs were similar but in a different order than mine; some of theirs were very different because they are unique, their life circumstances totally theirs, and most of all, their God is very personal and creative.
And the same is true for you, dear reader. So I invite you to take this journey with me. Maybe you will discover, as a result, the metaphors in your own life and come to understand the meaning of the mysteries you have been living and how your creative, personal God has met you every step of the way in your unique, mundane-but-spiritual life. So thanks for your grace as we spring off of my remembering stones and maybe onto your own as well.
Join us in the coming weeks as we reminisce and share together.
I think that all things, in their way, reflect heavenly truth, the imagination not least. C.S. Lewis