“All will be well; you can ask me how, but only time will tell.”
I guess 25 is sort of an important number. It’s easily divisible into 100, and everybody likes the number 100. Who doesn’t want to live to be 100? I figure everyone thinks they want to live to be 100 when they are my age. I don’t know—maybe that desire goes away as one gets older. Right now, though, it seems like a pretty good goal. It seems good because I am turning 25 this week, and I don’t feel like I should be a quarter of the way to 100. Time indeed flies when you are having fun.
I don’t feel old; I just feel rushed. I guess this is the first time that a birthday has really made me pause and think about where my life is going. I’ve been asking myself some heavy questions this week about what I’ve been doing and where I’m headed. I mean, I’m glad to say that I’ve enjoyed myself for 25 years, but to what ends? Has it gotten me to where I need to be? Has it set me up to be successful for the next 25 years? How much time have I wasted in the past quarter of a century that I can’t ever get back? How stunted is my growth as a follower of Christ because of my own selfishness and lack of discipline? How stunted is my growth because I’ve been too busy enjoying myself? Am I right where I need to be as I prepare for the ministry? Or have I gotten behind? Or maybe, hopefully, am I doing okay?
I am reading a new biography about Dietrich Bonhoeffer (which I would highly recommend to anyone), and so far I have only made it through his young adult years. I’ve been blown away by all that this man accomplished by the time he turned 25, so much so that at first I was really feeling bad about how little I have done. Bonhoeffer received a doctorate from Berlin University when he was 21. He spent a summer in Rome and a year preaching at a church in Barcelona when he was 23. He worked with children and youth in Germany and wrote a second dissertation while he waited on an appointment as a professor. He even spent a year in America, studying in NYC and traveling the country to see anything that interested him. He had accomplished a lot. He had a better grasp of theology and the Bible at 23 than I probably will at 43. He thought like a scholar, he wrote like a philosopher, and he spoke like a man of God. Anything I’ve done pales in comparison to all this. And yet, as his 25th birthday drew near, he wrote the following to his twin sister, “It is so unnerving to me that we are really going to be twenty-five now…If I were to imagine that I had already been married for over five years, had two children, my own house, well, then I could feel fully justified in turning twenty-five…How I shall spend the day I do not quite know yet.” It sounds like Bonhoeffer felt weird about turning 25 too. So maybe it’s not accomplishments or brains or jobs that make one feel good about getting older.
But then what does? I guess nothing can really make me feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be at 25 other than faith that I belong to God, that he’s got me and he’s not gonna let me go, that all will be well in the end. Julian of Norwich said it best, “All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.” The Gabe Dixon Band says it second best, “All will be well, even after all the promises you’ve broken to yourself. All will be well; you can ask me how but only time will tell.” And it will be well. I suppose it takes extreme optimism to be able to say that all things will be well. Period. But when I really take to heart the promises of God, it rings true. Despite whatever I might do, somehow God will take it and make it all well. That’s what I needed to hear as I turn 25.
And so, I guess I’m feeling pretty good about this birthday. Despite all my fears about how little I’ve accomplished, I am really happy about where I am right now, and I feel really blessed by the wonderful 25 years that I’ve already been given. May the next 25 years be just as wonderful. I want to see what God can do in me and around me in the next 25 years. I want to work in a church, get married, have kids, read many good books, write one good book, go to Rome, run a marathon. I want to die to myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus…for the next 25 years.