Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Our Once and Future Joy

"I can't say this for sure," notes author/journalist Laura Fraser in "My So-Called Genius" (MORE Magazine, May 2008), "but I'd bet it was a formerly precocious person who coined the term midlife crisis." Fraser's article reflects on the emotional side of her transition from a top academic achiever to an accomplished-but-not-world-famous fortysomething--and on the disappointment that awaits many child prodigies when they learn high potential doesn't equal effortless and spectacular success. Or even high self-esteem.

Of course, you don't have to be a former high school valedictorian to experience a midlife crisis. Many of us spend the first half of our lives figuring we have "plenty of time" to accomplish our dreams--and the second half figuring we've already blown the chance. That's the kind of thinking that leads to an obsession with the "good old days." It can also lead to embarrassing moments if we haven't yet outlived those who remember us as kids; have you ever complained to your mother that life was so much better when you were twenty-one and been told, "The letters you wrote home from college during those days didn't give the impression you found things all that great"? As often as not, the "worst time of our lives" is the one we're living through at this moment.

Regardless, God didn't put us on earth to waste the present living in the past or the future. More than that, He is the only One with a truly accurate picture of all three--and the only One Who brings meaning to any of them. The Scriptures don't call Him the One "who was, and is, and is to come" (Rev. 4:8) for nothing.

In Him is the wisdom to learn from the past. In Him is the strength to thrive in the present. And in Him is all hope for the future--not simply in time but through the timelessness of eternity.

Look to the future—remember the past—
Look into both for the things that will last.
Sweet are the memories of good times now done;
Sweet is the vision of things yet to come.

Look to the past for the lessons that guide;
Look to the future, where they’ll be applied.
Praise for the wisdom a lifetime has brought;
Praise for the insights of days yet unsought.

Open the Scriptures and look to the Word,
Wisdom far sweeter than ever was heard.
Praise all the things God has done for His own,
Praise for His planning of things yet unknown.

He Who was shaping the earth as it grew—
He is the One Who will make all things new.
He Who came once to free mortals from sin—
He is the One Who is coming again.

He Who stood by us through all that has been—
He is the One Who will reign without end.
Seek out His blessing for all that will last:
Look to the future, remember the past.

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