“The Lord said to [Moses], ‘Enough from you! Never speak to me of this matter again! Go up to the top of Pisgah and look around you to the west, to the north, to the south, and to the east. Look well, for you shall not cross over this Jordan.” – Deuteronomy 3:26-27
As I get older, I find myself sometimes hyper-aware of the narrowing of possibilities for my future. It’s not popular to say, but it’s true: as time goes by, so do certain possibilities for what you’re going to accomplish in your life. You make some choices that actively close doors that aren’t likely to open again; other doors just sort of slowly swing shut on their own when you aren’t looking. Of course, you might still become famous for doing that thing that only people half your age are supposed to be able to do, but . . . probably not.
Moses feels you. All that time, effort, patience, leadership, years of wandering—then God slams the door in his face just this side of the promised land. And you thought it was hard to realize you’re never going to get on Drag Race.
One way to look at this is as a narrowing, a series of no’s closing in on either side of you. Nobel Prize? No. Major League baseball player? No.
Another way to look at it, though, is as a deepening. The universe of possible yeses shrinks for each of us as time goes on . . . but that just makes time for us to dwell in the yeses we do have more fully. Now that it’s (probably) too late for you to become President, you can spend more time in the garden, become your town’s rose expert. Now that becoming a doctor and curing cancer is (most likely) off the table, you can spend more time with your kids, really find out what makes them tick. Your real world yeses may be more mundane than your old dreamy no’s, but that doesn’t mean they don’t contain deep worlds of challenge and delight.
Listen: it is not given to you to do everything. It is not even given to you to do most things. But the things that have been given to you? Do them like you’re parting the Red Sea. Do them like you’re bringing water from a rock to save a people. Do them like they’ve been handed to you from a column of fire and smoke on a mountaintop. Because there’s a fair chance they have been.
God, let me walk through the doors still open to me with grace and faithfulness. And if any have been shut to me unjustly or against your will, give me the power to kick them down. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.