This article is part of the Help! series.
It’s Not Too Late
For me, it happens in the middle of the night. I start thinking about how old I am and what I’ve accomplished and what I thought my life might look like at this point. This isn’t something I’ve only been doing recently. In my early twenties I started measuring my life’s progress against a timeline of my own expectations. I looked at my peers, considered what my parents were doing at my age, and felt behind.
We ask children what they are going to be when they grow up, assuming they will have a career or skill by which they can define themselves. Little girls ask each other how many children they will have (along with their preferred gender ratio) and announce which of the boys they are going to marry. As a child, I drew floorplans of the house I would build one day (mine had a library opening onto a music room). We assume our childhood daydreams are all within our reach.
They are not all within our reach. People discover this at different ages depending on how their life goes. The blow might come through unrequited love or infertility, through financial losses or the inability to hold a job. For some, the realization may not come until old age when, little by little, the breakdown of the body closes off our options.
If you’re starting to fear this is the most depressing thing you’re going to read on the internet today, let me quickly switch gears and give you the good news. Life has not passed you by. It’s not going to. If you are in Christ, your life has only just begun.
Building a Life
It’s common to talk about “building a life.” In fact, the concept of building a life corresponds pretty closely to Jesus’s teaching from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus contrasts those who build a house on the rock with those who build a house on the sand. Only the house built on the rock can withstand a storm.
Jesus doesn’t require his listeners to interpret the analogy himself; he spells it out for them: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt. 7:24).
Jesus didn’t describe these two houses beyond their foundation type. The house on the sand may have had great curb appeal. It may have been tasteful and well-appointed, with a kitchen clad in shiplap, custom subway tile, and stainless-steel appliances. It may have been filled with likeable, stable people, the kind everyone wants to be around. Its owners probably had fulfilling, impressive careers and happy well-adjusted children. And you know what? It still got washed away.
The house on the rock may have been nothing to look at in comparison. It might even have been tacky. The person who lived in it might have been lonely, unimpressive, and haunted by regrets. The house didn’t stand firm because it was a great house but because it was built on a great rock.
The same thing is true of our lives. We spend them searching for love, security, and significance, but we may not be able to find those things. Even if we find them, they may all wash away in an instant. The only way to secure deep and lasting happiness is to wholeheartedly seek it in the life to come.
There’s no way you can be behind when you have eternity before you.
Securing a Future
If your life on earth has been sufficiently fortunate to the point that others envy you, that’s not a bad thing. If God gives you marriage, success, children, and grandchildren, those are gifts! But if you find that you are trusting in the life that you’ve built rather than the rock of Christ and his word, you’re in trouble.
On the other hand, you may be someone who has failed at every relationship or project you’ve ever undertaken. You may never have a life event or career achievement worthy of notice in an alumni magazine. But if you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ and his blood shed for you, your future is secure and eternally bright.
The next time you find yourself awake in the middle of the night, wondering if life is passing you by, ask yourself if your life is built on the rock of Jesus. If so, roll over and go back to sleep. There’s no way you can be behind when you have eternity before you.
Betsy Howard is the author of Seasons of Waiting: Walking By Faith When Dreams Are Delayed.