I have no idea where the title for this post came from. I was thinking back to some good times in Arkansas, some vivid fragments of memory that have left lasting imprints on my life. Watershed moments.
(There was about a 10-minute gap here in my writing as my mind was flooded with a torrent of other momentous times growing up).
In some cases, from very young childhood, I can only remember images of shaping experiences (e.g. watching the Cardinals at Busch Stadium for the first time at about age 3). In other cases, I remember only the feelings or emotions that came with certain experiences (e.g. the loneliness and bewilderment of the first night in the dorm at college, 3 hours from home…there to stay). Still with others, I can virtually re-create entire instances in my mind as if I am watching a DVD in a fully equipped home theater featuring Dolby surround sound. I can see, hear, and feel it all.
My childhood and youth were times full of newness and wonder–encapsulated for me now in densely packed memory. Like my peers, I live now in a very different station in life: late twenties, paying off old debts while trying to set a solid financial foundation, married and on the verge of *starting a family,* and trudging through the early years of career/work life. I remember graduating from the University of Arkansas in May 2006. I remember June 30, 2007, when Erica decided to take on my name and bind her future to mine. I remember mid-August of 2010 when Erica and I were told that the 3-month-old baby in her womb had stopped growing and would not be coming to live with us after all. I anticipate that I will remember November xx, 2011, when I am once again scheduled to become a father for the first time. But the gaps of memory these days are much broader than they used to be.
The twenties have proven much tougher years to me than the teens. There were pressures, disappointments, and pitfalls throughout my teenage years. But to borrow a line from Lady Antebellum, I’d rather hurt than feel nothing at all. And it was not all pain; there was ample success, reward, companionship, and fulfillment as well. I don’t think that I have become overly callous or numb, and I don’t think I have succumbed to a general apathy about life. But I don’t think I am going to look back and remember very much about these past few years of life. It just seems that this phase has been high on meandering and low on meaning–sort of a ghost walk through life in its most mundane form. If I had to boil it all down to one missing ingredient, it would have to be growth. I don’t mind at all getting older, but along with it I would like to become holier, wiser, more thoughtful, more inspired and inspiring, deeper in fellowship with God and man–and not just to give me something to write Home about, but simply so I could experience more of the fullness of life. Think of the lives of Peter, Paul, John Mark, and Timothy. The consistent theme between them is their growth as they learned to abide in Christ, find identity wrapped up solely in Him, labor for His sake, and experience joy that comes both in victory and in suffering for His Name.
So, to bring all of this to bear on myself, if I may, here are a few Scriptural truths regarding bona fide vitality. Jesus said that to know God the Father and Son is eternal life itself (John 17:3), that He is the Bread of Life which we must eat to live (John 6:35, 48-51), and that He is the Fountain of living water that wells up to eternal life in us (John 4:11); Paul boiled life down to just a few things: the experiences of his living in Christ (Philippians 1:21) and Christ’s living in him (Galatians 2:20), seeing others learn to stand firm in the faith (1 Thessalonians 3:8), and finding both life and peace in a mind set on the Spirit (Romans 8:6).
I think that the advancement of age requires an ever-increasing depth in experience in order for the experience of wholeness. My first kiss is in my past now, as are my wedding day, graduations from high school, college, and seminary, and any real proficiency in the realm of athletics. Regardless, those things would not be enough to fill the yearnings of the soul of the adult. The world is not big enough, people are not good or impressive enough, and the list of notable human experience is only so long. What then? To know God in fullness and to experience life in Him that I’ve never known before. Only He can satisfy. That’s what I want. And that’s how I would really like to remember my twenties, the supposed “best years of your life.”