This summer marks the seventh year I’ve been serving as the Lead Pastor of East 91stStreet Christian Church and the 27thyear of full-time pastoral ministry. As I’ve talked with others in a similar season of life and work, I’ve discovered that the hills we once aspired to climb can easily turn into plateaus.
George Herbert once wrote, “He begins to die, that quits his desires.” What is it that leads us to complacency where our dream muscles atrophy and our desires turn to disinterest? Our happiness rests in past memories far more than future opportunities. Ed Sissman captured the inward battle of eyes that only see a monotonous horizon:
Men past forty
Get up nights,
Look out at city lights
Where they made the wrong turn
And why life is so long
(Wild at Heart, 45-46).
Many face this dilemma only to turn to fool’s gold in the form of a mid-life crisis. They believe their heart’s apathy can be regenerated with all that is new: a new car, a new spouse, a new job, a new house, a new hobby. One would think, however, that after the unending testimonies of these aspirations turning to desperations leading to failure, we would wise up and chart a different course.
Will I fall victim to this same infectious disease? I choose not. Are these words of Thoreau descriptive of your life today? “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” I pray not. What can save us from a listless future of weariness?
I believe the answer rests not in a new hill to climb or a new challenge to tackle. The answer rests in a renewed commitment to the One who leads us into uncharted territory once again.
When the Israelites were crossing the Jordan River for the very first time, Joshua told them to follow the ark of the covenant, symbolizing the presence of God. “Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before” (Joshua 3:4, NIV). The right destinations are best achieved by following the One who has the right directions.
Do you hope for a better future? Do you long for a new adventure? Then follow the One who is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. His future for your life is not one of mediocrity. Jesus, the Lion and the Lamb, is the One who makes all things new (Revelation 21:5), and He will guide you, since you have never been this way before.