It might be the winter sun streaming in through the windows of my office. It might be the satisfaction of having treated myself to a latte from my favourite coffee shop on the way to work this morning.
Whatever the reason, I am inspired. I’ve got that feeling when your heart feels a little lighter than the air, as if it’s pulling you upwards and making you walk a little bit like you’re on the moon.
I wrote a couple of days ago about the crippling fear that is the mid-twenties crisis. After indulging my own panic and insecurities for nearly a thousand words, I finally got around to suggesting that Jesus makes a difference: that because of Jesus, there is redemption. And that certain hope, while in no way guaranteeing that we won’t make terrible choices and mess things up, means they’re never the end of the story. There’s always a way for redemption.
I need redemption for the past. I will continually need redemption for today when today is past, for tomorrow when tomorrow is past. But today, I realised that post comes with a Part 2. Because there’s a future as well as a past.
The difference Jesus makes to our mid-twenties crises is not merely damage control for dodgy mistakes (though it’s certainly a reassuring difference).
Because of Jesus, there is a purpose. An electrifying, all-consuming, boundless purpose that makes sense of those terrifyingly boundless possibilities.
The fear that I wrote about in my last post means it’s easy to get sucked into believing that the best we can hope for is to make it through these 80 years (fingers crossed) or so without killing anyone, ruining anyone’s life, or other causes for major regret. It’s about making good enough decisions to be satisfied with them in the end.
Just avoid regrets. Just do something, anything, well enough that you’re pleased you opted for that. Just do life well enough. That’s all you can aim for.
It’s a way of thinking that assumes there’s a near end. There’s these years to do life on earth, then it’s done – and I don’t necessarily mean worm-food. We can believe in heaven and eternal life, yet still see life now as a short few years to make the best of. Whatever heaven is, it won’t be this. We don’t imagine these choices, this career, these relationships, these plans, these passions, these adventures in heaven. It’s other, its different, it’s another time and another place, disconnected.
But when Jesus came a couple of thousand years ago announcing the Kingdom of God, he blurred the lines. This age, and the age to come. Here, and there. This realm, and that.
The Kingdom is coming here, he said, look around. Can’t you see it already?
I’ve been reading again Rob Bell’s Love Wins, which sets out a lot of this thinking much more fully and beautifully than I can. And what hit me most is that as he sets out to describe heaven as Jesus talked about it, what he ends up with is a picture of life now. Life that starts now, and doesn’t end at death. Life that overcomes death.
What is looks like is God’s kingdom: a dynamic, growing, living, breathing life that happens when heaven comes to earth. It’s on it’s way. And life is about being part of it. Doing the stuff of heaven here and now. And that’s not restricted to street-preaching or knocking on doors with tracts.
Here’s a few things Rob Bell suggests are part of ‘the life of heaven’:
making a home,
tending a garden –
they’re all sacred tasks to be done in partnership with God now, because they will all go on in the age to come.
And when we work for justice, and when we pursue peace, and when we fight for freedom from oppression, and a megaphone for the ignored, and a family for the lonely, and a rest for the exhausted – that’s participating in the life of heaven, the life that starts now and won’t stop at death.
What an adventure. What a freedom. To not have to worry about picking the best path, the most fulfilling career, the most perfect relationship, the most comfortable house – instead to pursue the kingdom of God, recklessly and with abandon.
There is redemption, but the beautiful thing about redemption is that it sets us free from looking over our shoulders. I don’t need to worry about looking back. I don’t need to worry about regret. In fact, as one of my favourite lines from the song How he loves us goes:
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that he loves us…
…when I think about the adventure we’re invited to.
…when I think about the Kingdom we’re building.
…when I think about the people we’re called to love.
…when I think about the way that he loves us.
The mid-twenties crisis is about frustration and fear. Life isn’t all I hoped it would be. Life isn’t all it should be. Life is too big and too vast to know what to do and where to go. Life is full of potential to get it wrong. Life will probably end in regret.
With Jesus, there is redemption, purpose, and a future. Life is a gift. My humanity is not to be feared. Mistakes don’t have ultimate power. There is a future. This world has a future. There’s a purpose to be part of. There’s an adventure to join in with.
How could I have time to maintain all these regrets? Why would I bother with all this fear?
The sun is shining and there’s a life to live, a life without limits or end.