Granted, there are plenty of things in life that drain us. There are struggles that we face that take all of our emotional energy, our patience, our joy. Sometimes life itself just “gets in the way” as it’s prone to doing, and we feel spent and exhausted, frustrated and out of touch. And because we’re weak and feeble creatures on our own, we are defeated. You all know those people. The ones who are bitter and cynical, tired and burnt out, and who never really rise above. I think at times we can all be those sort of people.
In my own life, the past year has been incredibly exhausting. I wouldn’t have asked for it if the Lord had’ve told me from the beginning what it would be like. I would have run for the hills, to be quite frank. I’ve cried more in the past six months than I think I have in my whole life. I’ve given up, been angry, and hidden away from the world. I’ve surprised myself with the amount of pain I could possibly feel. All of this was certainly caused by a combination of factors, all resulting in a terrible series of events, but even still–I felt like I’d been hit by a Mac truck. Again, life had proven to be full of hurtful people and stupid emotions. I trusted people who let me down, I believed promises that people couldn’t keep, and I saw the true colours of people I thought I knew. Reality and humanity crashed down around me like an unrelenting rainstorm, and from the ground, I asked for God to bring me into the light.
And again, Lewis is right when he said : “Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn.” In this season of doubt and sadness, uncertainty and brokenhearted-ness, I have learned not only what I am made of, but who God is in relation to my pain, and what my specific purpose is in this life. I have learned that I am someone who loves deeply. And while that opens me up to the possibility of great pain, it also opens me up to the possibility of great joy. I have learned that I’m not nearly so awful and dreadful as I often think I am. I have been taught to see myself through the eyes of my Maker, and when I look in the mirror, what I see isn’t half bad anymore. I have learned that to love anything truly is to do so to the abandonment of oneself, without considering what is in it for me, or what I can gain from another person. And while that love can be abused, used, and rejected by other people, I have gained more in loving someone as such than I would have if I didn’t. I have learned that God’s way is the best way, and his timing is perfect. I have learned that He forgives and forgets perfectly. And while his children hurt and mistreat each other, He still loves them. He wishes all things to be restored to their proper order, and He will set the world to rights again. I am now impatient for that day, when the Lord sets heaven and earth right again, when before I was stuck in this present age.
With that, I have learned that this life is incredibly short and will pass in the blink of an eye. In my relationship with the Lord, I have been commissioned to a great task. One that He specifically created me to accomplish on this earth, while I’m here, that has eternal significance and consequence. Only I was made for the particular job God has for me. My skills and talents were breathed into me for this very task. The Kingdom is to be advanced through my life, and that is its sole purpose. To glorify the Father and to rise to the occasion of the holy vocation I have been given is my life’s main aim. This is part of what it means to die to self: to realize life isn’t about you. It never was. It never will be.
In light of this reality, I’ve learned one of the most important things I might ever learn: I don’t have time. I don’t have time to count my battle scars and seek vengeance and justice over each one. I don’t have time to be hateful and bitter towards the people who have used me, mistreated me, and lost me. I don’t have time to wallow, retreat from life itself, and carry around a chip on my shoulder. I don’t have time to wait around for things to change into what I want them to be. I don’t have time to sit around. I will give an account for every wasted minute. Every single one.
See, here’s the thing, Christians: when you accept the task of following Christ, you were asked to count the cost. Will you give up everything you have to follow? Will you forsake every human desire for the heavenly role of being a child of the King? Will you partake in the war for heaven or will you become a useless, rusted tool in your inaction and complacency? Will you allow your pain, your hurt, your exhaustion, and your citizenship on earth to leave you “good intentioned” but useless? These questions are beckoning to be answered. Because when you became a Christian, and you counted the cost, you were then asked to hit the ground running in the race for the Kingdom. And that means that you simply don’t have time for anything else.