Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What I Hope for 29

In a week and a half I'll be turning 29, and honestly, it's a birthday that I've been thinking about a lot because of what it means. It means I'll be in the last year of my 20s, a time of life that I have loved. It means that my next birthday after it is 30, and I don't know how to be a 30-year-old. It means that, like it or not, time is marching on and I can't stop it.

I knew I wanted to write about this birthday, but I couldn't decide quite what to say. I had some different ideas for ways to mark this transition, but they all seemed too self-serving. So I started thinking about what I really wanted to accomplish this year, so that when 30 arrives, I can look back and know that 29 was great.

My little ideas for how to celebrate this last remnant of youth started to dissolve away as I realized they really weren't important at all. What was important, however, started rising to the top and I knew that's what I needed to write about, and hopefully encourage you with. Even if you're long past 29, or not yet in your 20s, I believe this is can be important for every age.

What I Hope for 29

I hope that next year, when 29 ends, I will look back and say it was the best year ever. Not because I did a million fun things, or because I achieved a new goal, but because I became more like Jesus. At the root of everything, that's all I want for this year: to change more and more into who God wants me to be.

I've been a follower of Jesus for over two decades. When I look back over my life, I see lots of different seasons. Some seasons were easy, self-centered times when all I worried about was my life and what I wanted to happen. Other seasons were excruciating, times of loss and brokenness when all I had to hold on to was God and His promise to never leave me. There were seasons of walking closely with God and times where I went off on my own path only to get lost along the way.

I feel like now God is calling me into a season of preparing myself for whatever He may have for me next, whether in the immediate future or later down the road. To me that looks like spending time reading the Bible, engaging in Christian community, looking for opportunities to serve, and not discounting or wishing away this stage of life, but taking advantage of it. It's about making myself available to whatever He may have, even if it seems insignificant.

I've spent a lot of my life wishing for other things. As a child I wanted a bigger family with lots of siblings. As a teenager I just wanted to get out of high school and on to college. In college all I wanted was to be in a relationship and get married. After college I wanted to see all my hopes and dreams materialized at any cost and I wasted a lot of time fruitlessly chasing them. I don't want that to be true for this season. I want to live in this season, to be present, and to make the most of it.

One of my pastors recently said, "Contentment is a bi-product of a pursuit of godliness." Oh how true that is. Focusing on God gets our eyes off of ourselves, off of whatever selfish thing we want now, off of whatever we think is wrong in our lives. Focusing on God helps us to see His plan, to trust Him, and to move toward whatever He is calling us to with obedience and faith. We can be content knowing Whom we serve and that He is in control of everything.

Throughout every season of life, God has never failed me. He led me through the challenging times, provided for me in times of need, even gave me above and beyond what I deserved. He was faithful even when I was not. Because of this, I know I can trust Him with 29, and whatever may lay beyond. I don't have to worry about achieving goals or growing older because He will always be there giving me purpose and hope.

What I Hope for You

My hope for you is the same. I hope that wherever you are in your life, whatever season you are in, that you will move toward Jesus. He is the best thing for you, the best investment of your time, the best at loving you. He is the best.

Life can be discouraging. Circumstances can feel overwhelming. Problems can lead to hopelessness. There is always trouble. But in the midst of all that is wrong and bad, Jesus is there, holding out His hand, wanting you just as you are. He wants you to lean on Him through everything because He can handle anything. He tells us, "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Maybe you already have a relationship with Jesus and you need to remember this truth and pursue Him this year. Or maybe you're not really sure what He's all about and you have questions. Wherever you may be, I want you to know that I would love to talk to you about it. If you need encouragement, if you have questions, if you need truth, I am always here to talk and to share. I certainly don't have everything figured out, but the great thing is, we can learn and grow together.

I hope this year is great, and I can't wait to see what God will do in each of us!

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