Today is my twenty-fifth birthday. I have officially lived for a quarter of century.
I know, right??
Twenty-five years feels like forever and nothing at all at the same time. Like I’ve lived forever and for no time at all. I am still at the point in my life where the majority of my time has been spent in school, I have not known my husband for longer than I have not, and I have only been a legal adult for seven years.
I think if younger me met me now, she’d be happy with some things but confused with others. She’d be happy to know I teach and write, but confused as to how I don’t have a physical classroom and haven’t published a book yet. She’d be happy to know I went to college, but baffled by my seminary degree. She’d be happy that I am married, but wonder why my husband is younger than me and why we don’t have children (younger me was obsessed with babies. Me now is as well).
Basically, my life at twenty-five is both everything and nothing I thought it would be growing up. As the years go by, I often find myself meditating on the way in which God leads his children through life. Looking back, I am amazed at the ways he has shaped me even in times of rebellion. For example, towards the end of my sophomore year of college, feeling disenchanted with my major, I rebelled against where I knew I was supposed to be and changed my major. What followed was a trying first semester of my junior year, a switch back to my original major, and the effects a temporary switch had on my last three semesters of college (and even grad school). For anyone who has heard this story, you may recall that I have dubbed this period of time my “Jonah semester.”
But what’s so incredible about that time in my life and Jonah’s story is not that eventually, Jonah and I come back around to God’s way of thinking. No, what is incredible about my story, Jonah’s story, and all the stories of God’s children is that we were never in charge to begin with. Even when we thought we were the furthest we could get from God, he was still there. When we think we’ve messed it all up and we’re wandered outside the realm of God’s will, we are exactly where we are supposed to be. Nothing happens outside of God’s sovereign will. He uses all of our moments, good and bad, rebellious and obedient, for our good and his glory.
Not one moment of these twenty-five years of my life have I been outside of the sovereign, loving, merciful will of my God. When I have walked through the deepest valleys, he has been my guiding light. When I have climbed to the top of the highest mountains, he has been the one to set my feet on those high places. When I have trudged through the ordinary in-between days, God has led my every step. He has known and shaped the desires of my heart, gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) nudging me through the twists and turns of life.
How comforting is the knowledge of our God’s sovereignty! That even when everything feels like it is spinning out of control, God is not surprised. Even when I am overwhelmed, he is not. When I walk through dark valleys and my emotions tell me lies about who my God is, he is still God, he is still good, he is still there.
I can look back at every experience, every moment of the last twenty-five years and confidently say, “God has been with me in every moment.” Even when he felt out of reach, even when my sinful, rebel heart did not want him, he was there. By his overwhelming grace and mercy, he called me to himself and saved me when I was eleven years old. Through his unending love, he has carried me.
This is the resounding theme of my twenty-five years, and all the remaining years I have: Jesus has led me all the way.