I'm in a very transitional time of life right now, as are most people my age. I'm 23 years old, living on my own in a city that I didn't grow up in a cute old house right off of my college campus with three roommates. We're all in this similar place where we are trying to move forward into adulthood while still learning from the past, walking away from who we were in college and into the roles of grown-ups with jobs and insurance bills and credit scores. I graduated from college and have a degree but can't find a job, and I change my mind almost every week about what I want to do with my life. I just started graduate school to get my teaching license and I'm hoping that that leads me down the right path, but of course I never feel 100% sure about anything. I spent most of college trying to figure out what in the world God is calling me to do with my life, but of course I still have no idea. But I am learning as I get older, that what you do with your life and the plans you make aren't as important as where your heart is and who you're living for.
By the time you turn 23, you've seen enough of life to know generally what works and what doesn't. Not that I'm an expert or anything, but I've seen a lot people living life a lot of different ways, and being a writer (or a wanna-be writer anyway), I do a lot of observing and analyzing people and their behavior, trying to understand what's in their heads and their hearts and why they act the way they do. I've learned a lot, and I still am. One of the things that I've discovered, is that these years are very influential, because not only are these the years that we chose our career or spouse or place to live, these are also the years that we decide whether or not we are really serious about following Jesus, and if we are, what that looks like and how that compares to what we grew up thinking or believing. Unfortunately, the statistics say this is the time in life that most people walk away from Jesus instead of embracing living life with Him. And while I'm not sure that's true, I will say I can see why that might be true. For the first time in our lives, we have the ability to decide if we are willing to do what it takes to be a disciple of Jesus. No one is making us. We're not in college anymore so we can't rally 12 girls who live on our hall in the dorm and carpool to church and eat lunch afterwards. We're at least adults on some level, enough to know and understand that if we do decide to follow Jesus, it won't necessarily make our lives easier like we grew up believing. In fact, for a lot of us, things become more difficult.
Part of the reason for that is because there is something about Jesus that inspires change in people, and most people don't like change. When we truly encounter Jesus, we realize that He has made us for more than the things that we've learned to live with about ourselves, our sin, our brokenness, and our pain. We realize that following Jesus means not settling for life as we know it, but instead dealing with the things we want to keep hidden forever, the things we want to forget, and the things we have kept buried in the depths of our hearts for as long as we can remember. You see this over and over again in the bible. God keeps calling people to a better way of life, and they either trust and follow Him, or they don't. Look at the Israelites in the book of Numbers. God finally shows them the Promised Land, the very thing they've been waiting for for so long, but they see that attaining it will be difficult because they people they'll have to fight are huge and they don't think they have what it takes. So they give up, most of them. And I read this story and I think that the Israelites are a bunch of morons, but then I realize how many times I've done the same thing. And I would venture to say that all of us have at some point in time.
So many of us settle for cheaper versions of the life we were made for because we are more afraid of the pain that we will feel if we change the things in our life that need to change than we are excited about the hope of redemption. Just like the Israelites, we take one look at the obstacles that stand between us and what we have been called to do or who we have been called to be, and if there is any pain or struggle involved, we give up. Game over. We claim that we don't have what it takes, that we're not good enough or strong enough and we live our lives to about half of the potential we could be, all the while wondering why we're not happy or successful or why we don't feel fulfillment and purpose in our lives. But the truth of the matter is, the reason that so many of us don't encounter life to its fullest potential is because we don't trust that what God has in store for us on the other side is worth the pain that it will take to get there.
But I'm here to tell you that it is. The life that God has called you to live is so wonderful and it is so very worth any suffering or pain that you may feel in order to get there. It won't be easy, but no one ever said it would be. This idea that we somehow started believing, that once we follow Jesus everything will get better, it's not true. In fact, there have been times in my life that I have prayed about something and it has gotten worse. But I'll tell you this much, it's worth it in the end, and if you can't see that yet, then it's not the end. Don't let your fear of pain or change or suffering convince you to choose temporary comfort over a passion filled life with Jesus. As a a matter of fact, don't let fear convince you to do anything ever. You could end up missing out on the Promised Land.