Grace, Aging and the Human Experience
Here I sit a couple days from my 62nd birthday, reflecting on the benefits of age as well as the relative passing of time. Each year, seemingly is reduced in its longevity, creating a sense that “chronos” is not just some mechanical clockwork process determined by the orbiting of the planets, but a part of some grander scheme connected to one’s soul.
As one ages, the awareness of the logarithmic like compounding of learning brings a realization that life is not about this brief window as a human. Life, it seems is not solely about a human experience, but rather a journey that prepares a soul for eternity. Someone said, “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey but spiritual beings on a human journey.” How eternity folds into all this is yet to be seen by this one, and awaits the other side of death…a point in time when the body falls off and the spirit is released…true metamorphosis!
What makes me so sure of all this? It’s the inner awareness of the comparative realities of my own spiritual journey. When I was a child, I dreamed of what heaven might be, but knew only what I was told. Then when I met Christ in 1973, a dramatic change occurred in my life as I was confronted by the God who had for some time pursued me. This was truly my first experience with personal grace apart from religion. I had been found by Him!
Now with almost 40 years behind me and multiple transitions in and out of religious practice, I am stirred by the reality that little that I have done “for Him” has mattered in the course of my “chronos.” This seemed even more exaggerated in my spirit this a.m. of September 25, as I read from my companion: Oswald Chambers, visa My Utmost for His Highest. “The Sermon on the Mount is not an ideal, it is a statement of what will happen in me when Jesus Christ has altered my disposition and put in a disposition like his own.”
Aging brings perspective to our assumptions. Having heard numerous sermons on The Sermon, one might aspire to become “poor in spirit”, possibly experience some brief cause to mourn, even advance toward meekness, and so own. However, this great passage is not a listing of goals toward which one should strive, as a part of some religious journey. It is a bold statement of the way one actually becomes over time once grace has had its perfect work through Christ.
My hunger for righteousness has not been cultivated by religion, that’s self-righteousness; my meager quotient of mercy, pureness of heart and desire for peace with those “offending me” has come only through grace, as He has brought me kicking and screaming out of the bounds of this flesh, which I have found tiring and impossible to tame.
Why was I not told this earlier, more appropriately encouraged to rest in Him rather than to do for Him? Even my mentors were ill convinced of this reality, bounding my life with rules that would keep me “in Christ” and “for church” at all costs.
Little of this (see I cannot even say it) matters. We are “saved” by grace alone, but not just so that we will avoid condemnation (for there is no such thing in Christ) when we stand before the Creator, but rather that we might have “life” and that more abundantly. What awaits the soul once released from this frail frame? I truly know only in part, even at this age, but my time spent with Him has surely nurtured a “wonder” about this Kingdom of God.
“That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.’” I Cor. 2:9 NLT