“Its our hearts, not our ages or circumstances, that shape the seasons of our lives.”
(A note from the Passion Translation of Proverbs 4- ‘Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life’).
I am increasingly aware of my age. In fact just yesterday my brother asked me how long I’ve got- I realized he meant until I turned 40 (which can be measured in months at this stage). Leave it to brothers... But as I have been asked more frequently over the last year of my thoughts about turning “The Big Four- O” my response has felt the same: I feel ready for this next season. So when I read the note from this verse, it captured something nestled down deep in me, but I was not yet able to put into words.
As humans, we measure our time on this earth in comprehensible units. Minutes. Hours. Years. Decades. Centuries. We even group them into time eras that have typical expressions of that age attached. In our twenties we will likely make our craziest mistakes but are supposed to figure our lives out by the end of it. (You figured it out then, right?) I think we are supposed to thrive in our thirties. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I might have missed it. We go over the hill at 40, and by 60 are thinking about how to finish out life well. But what if that’s not how God measures our time on earth?
The best markers of change on our timelines are rarely monumental in the human sense; but seem to be the small moments of repentance, humility, and surrender that truly define and alter the course of our lives.
God called Moses as a very old man to lead His people out of captivity, but I would argue that it wasn't the moment the seas were parted or the people were free that actually defined Moses. I wondered what that wrestling was like when he ran from Egypt and all he knew? I wonder what it was like talking to his wife about what God told him to do? When did he actually surrender to God's crazy plan? Because God has some bizarre time table ideas. He is the same one who gave Sarah and Abraham their promised child when she was wrinkly, saggy and not super ready to chase around a toddler. When she first found out God would fulfill His promise, her heart (and her mouth!) laughed in shock and denial. So rather than this fulfilled promise sending her into a season of rejoicing, they entered a season of silence and wrestle. It was her heart- not her age or situation- that shaped the next few months for her. It makes me wonder how often my own story has been written by my heart response to God's plan for me rather than my assumed human timeline. I have a few of my own "laugh lines"...
God functions outside of our typical timelines and decade stereotypes, so why do we limit Him to our linear way of thinking?
I’m not saying that stereotypical things don’t happen at certain ages. My husband and I are definitely peeking gray hairs. I was just looking at this photo the other day and told him, "My crows feet and forehead wrinkles are no longer hide-able on my face." He told me he loved my laugh lines. I remember my mama telling me that your body feels it when hitting your thirties. She was right. But truthfully, if I were to currently measure what God has been and is doing, it wouldn't be defined by decades or life events. It would be best reflected in heart seasons. This note quote from above nailed it. It's been the position of my heart before Jesus IN these life stages and events that has most affected my season of life. Age does not birth wisdom- seeking it does. There are seasons I foolishly and pridefully do things my own way. There are seasons I draw close to the Father in my pain or joy; then slide right back into a season of forgetfulness where I attempt to control the world again. Life experiences absolutely give us all a deeper and fuller perspective on the world, however: I’ve met old men that have never surrendered lordship to Jesus, leaving a legacy of hurt and striving in their wake. And I have met old men who have yet to stop listening to Jesus’ call to bravely love and go where He leads them.
Anointing, Calling, Retirement- in God’s kingdom none of these are confined to an age or a stage of life but the willingness of each heart to submit to His storyline.
So might I encourage you today, to look less at the “stage” of life you think you’re in- the age it says on your driver’s license (and all the many expectations and assumptions that go along with it) and remember that we serve the God who came as a newborn. Man looks at the outside (whether smooth or wrinkled as a raisin) but God looks at the heart. So whatever heart season you find yourself in, may your laugh lines come not from denial of what God is doing, but from joy over the unexpected treasure you find in His storyline for you.