Under the Sun
The midwest has been inundated with snow this winter. We have received a fresh falling of 12 inches over the last two days at our house. Facebook is filled with comments (and a lot of complaints) because this winter varies greatly from the mild winters we have had over the past couple years. This winter, however, is more reminiscent of the ones I can remember as a child. I used to start a snow fort at the beginning of winter and it would be a work-in-progress for the couple months until spring. This is the first winter that my kids and I have been able to re-create my childhood in that regard. Every other winter has had too many warm spells where all the snow has melted. This winter has been nice and cold and full of snow. I love it.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the spring, summer, and fall as well. Fall is actually my favorite. I just really love the seasons. Each season has its own treasures as well as its difficulties and less-than-desirable qualities, but I want to choose to focus on the treasures.
“There is a time and a season for everything under the sun (or under the heavens)” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
I have been doing a lot of pondering lately about why I am here. What is the point of it all? What is life really about? You know, the light-hearted stuff.
I am in a strange season. I have often wondered if what I am experiencing is a mid-life crisis kind of thing. I am not sure what a mid-life crisis is supposed to look like, but usually people talk of doing something drastic, to add something new and crazy or different. I have had a strong desire to get a new pet lately. Weird, I know. Thankfully, I am too logically-minded to go get one without seriously considering the weight of that decision and responsibility. In other words, we won’t be getting a new pet any time soon.
I feel way too young to be having a mid-life crisis. Aside from the weird desire to get a new pet, I do not feel the need to go buy a new car (although we need one) or a boat or something else crazy. I do not feel the need to change careers because, let’s be honest, I never really began a career. I am a stay at home mom. I had big aspirations when I was younger to do something great, to achieve success in some way that the world would assess as significant. Instead, I have chosen to stay home and raise my kids (a position the world does not necessarily regard with high esteem), a decision I often wrestle with but always land fully rooted in knowing that this is what I want for my kids.
I read a blog post today that a friend “liked” on Facebook. It came up in my newsfeed and was a post by a guy named Matt Walsh who wrote to encourage stay at home moms that they do not need to defend what they do. I, of course, clicked on it since being a stay at home mom has been a wrestle for me at times. He wrote this particular blog post in response to a different post written by an unmarried career woman with no children who wrote of how she basically judges women who would choose motherhood.
Matt Walsh rightly puts it that a job is a means to and end. It is not the end itself. Family is the point. Jobs are meant to provide for and ultimately feed back into family. Jobs are not meant to be the goal and the achievement. There is no great purpose in achievement if it is merely for achievement sake.
I am not sure why I was so ambitious as a kid. I am not sure why I still feel that butterfly of excitement in my gut at the prospect of something new and adventurous. I think it is the way God made me. Not knowing why he made me that way has left me in this chasm of the unknown – this place of potential mid-life crisis – although, I am not willing to label it that. God, why have you made me the way I am? What do you want to do with me?
“There is a time and a season for everything under the sun.”
I find myself wondering if there is something more or different that I should be doing. As I wonder why God has made me the way he made me, it is not a self-esteem issue. I like me. I like how God chose to make me. I just wonder what he wants to do with me, and I often feel that there must be something more than what he is doing right now. I feel like I might be missing a trail he wants to walk me down.
Getting back to my original questions: What is the point? Why am I here? What is it all for?
I remember learning an answer to these questions, shortly after beginning my journey with Jesus, that makes a lot of sense, especially now. It comes from the Westminster Catechism (I am not a history buff, so I won’t try to explain what this is).
Question: “What is the chief end of man?
Answer: To glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
Makes sense, doesn’t it? Surely, the point of life can not be to finally have all the material possession we think would be grand or achieving a prominent career status. Clearly, life is not about trying to cram as many notable experiences into it as possible, nor traveling around the earth. Those are things that fill up a life and can add great depth and gratitude, but they are not the point. The point is to live a life that shines of God’s goodness and to enjoy him in the process.
I wonder how I am doing at enjoying him. I am usually (not always) quite good at enjoying my kids or enjoying my husband. I love being with them and spending time with them. I delight in what makes them uniquely them. I just plain enjoy them.
Do I enjoy God in the same way?
On the snowy trek to church this morning, my husband remarked, “Isn’t it amazing how one snow flake is so fragile all by itself, but when put together with a bunch of snow flakes, it makes something pretty strong and incredible?” That was a rather deep comment for my husband. He usually floats on the surface of things. I do not mean that as an insult. I rather envy him most of the time. He is usually quite easy-going and does not worry about the meaning of life very often. I would be shocked if he ever reaches a “mid-life crisis.” I, on the other hand, can’t seem to get out of my own head. I like to think about things. I like to understand. I like to be settled on matters.
But I will never be fully settled when it comes to God. He is too complex, for lack of better words. He is complicated. He is too magnificent to ever begin to comprehend. Pausing to think about how each snowflake is unique and there are innumerable little flakes just outside my window draws me to the beauty and geniuses (probably a made-up word) of God.
Of course, the snowflake is a metaphor to people. Each is fragile, but when brought together in community, there is a strength that can only be reflected by the whole and never re-created by just one alone.
When we pause to look around, it’s all God. Not god, little “g.” It’s all God. Big G. Nothing, in and of itself is a god. All the beauty, all creation (including people), reflect a portion of who God is. It is like God is “snow” and each of us are the flakes that make up the landscape of who God is. When we enjoy each other, we are enjoying God.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4).
What is the meaning of life? Why are you and I here? To reflect the goodness of God and enjoy him always.
He calls us to bring His goodness to earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). He gives us some ideas of how that could happen (Isaiah 1:17): to seek justice, to encourage those who are oppressed (by earthly and spiritual vessels), to defend the defenseless, and to look after those who have no one to look after them.
I may still continue to wrestle as I wonder how those purposes will play out in my life, but one thing is certain: I will not find any answers apart from intimacy with God.
At least one matter IS settled:
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).