I recently had a birthday, and I got all reflective and emotional and stuff. Sheesh. (It wasn’t Hallmark-Channel level, but it was close.) Anyway, all that reflectiveness was fine and dandy until I realized that mixed into my emotional cocktail of angst is my faith—at a certain age I began to ask myself and God some really hard questions.
One thing I’ve learned now that I’m in my mid-50s (and a Christian for more than 40 years) is that the faith walk does not get easier as you get older. It gets harder.
The naiveté of youth lets you fly through your days confident that you’ll change the world for Christ, and all your plans and wildest dreams will come true (sorry, young people, true story). And by the way, that’s okay. I absolutely love the energy and passion that the younger generations bring to the table. We so need that in the church today.
But one day you wake up and realize—it isn’t going to happen. Life isn’t going to play out the way you had planned.
My church will probably never reach 200 members. My adult kids’ walk with God looks a lot different than what my wife and I had envisioned. I’ll most likely never actually “retire.” Infertility may keep us from ever being grandparents. I wonder if my wife will have enough money to live on if I die. And on and on it goes.
You could probably fill in the blanks with your own reality. Infidelity. Divorce. Cancer. Loss of a parent. Loss of a child. Downsizing. Bankruptcy. Life never goes the way we planned.
Here’s another thing I know about the faith walk—it’s very daily. Like the Israelite’s provision of manna in the wilderness, God’s grace is enough for today—no more and no less. But it’s enough. And tomorrow morning we’ll wake up to a fresh batch of His mercy to get us through the day. Faith is very daily.
Recently I’ve been meditating on a verse in Psalms that has been a great encouragement to me.
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.”
Even though my love and faithfulness to God may tend to falter and fail, His never will. In the midst of my questioning and sometimes anemic faith, God’s love for me is unfailing. So I can lean into Him and trust Him on those days that seem too much to bear. He loves me.
And then I pray for the day ahead, “Show me the way I should go, Lord. Direct my path. Give me wisdom, because ‘for to you I entrust my life.’” I guess that would be a good working definition of faith—letting go of all the what-ifs and entrusting my life to a God whose love is unfailing. For today, that’s all I need. Today that’s enough.
Dave Fox (’84) is pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Springfield, Illinois. He and his wife Cindy (Zwald) have two children and love traveling, dining alfresco and tooling around on their Suzuki Boulevard.