The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22-23
I am 45. Speaking optimistically, I’m halfway through my life. This is good, because you have to grow old to know that God is faithful. You can experience God’s faithfulness in youth, but only as an abstract claim or a future guarantee. As you age, God’s promise is fulfilled. It is the long haul that reveals the joy of fidelity. Young relationships can be thrilling, but long relationships become beautiful.
The shape of God’s love changes over time. Or at least I’ve experienced it differently.
As a child God was the creator of awe. The expanse of the sky and the height of a climbing tree.
In middle school my father died. God became Christ crucified; abandoned with me in my abandonment.
In high school God was the law, corrective and protective in ways I wouldn’t let my mother be.
In the confusion of my twenties God was the Spirit, mysterious and sustaining.
When I met my wife, God was the empty tomb, bright promise and new life.
When our infant son had open-heart surgery God was the Church, carrying us.
All the while, my faith waxed and waned, went from robust to life support and back again. I assume such oscillation will continue. But looking back, I see that while my experience of God has varied greatly, God has always been there.
At 45, I’m finally able to trust God, because the years have revealed God’s faithfulness to me. I will never be abandoned. What was once a promise is now a relationship. It was one sided for years, but the relationship I have with Jesus is the longest one I’ve ever been in. He knit me together. He’s been with me every second since. All those days, all that solidity, reliability, empathy, presence and mercy. God is faithful. What was once an abstract claim has become my personal history.
It is yours as well. Or it will be. Sorry Millennials, but you have to wait. The good news is you have a wonderful gift waiting for you on the other side of forty.
“Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”