note: i wrote this the day before my birthday last year. a year might have gone by– new experiences, people and location came into my life–but the truth of what i was wrestling with is still in my heart and mind as another year has come and gone. this is a message i hope that i continue to preach, not just to others but to my own sinful soul. new material is coming in the upcoming week. consider this a midday snack or an appetizer before dinner. -paz
Today, I am 25 years young.
My mother recently asked me if this is what I imagined twenty-five to look and feel like. Honestly, I was expecting more facial hair, but we can’t always get what we want. 🙂 Seriously though, I don’t know what twenty-five was going to be like. As a child, I saw eighteen as the entrance into adulthood, twenty-one the ability to drink alcohol, twenty-two graduate from college, from twenty-three to twenty-five, get settled into a career, get married and have a family and live happily ever after until you die from old age.
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone whose life went according to that plan, because as human beings, filled with emotion and intellect, we are swimming in an ocean of change. I think one of the biggest factors in us swimming in this current is our culture is telling us that we need to be discontent with what we’ve been given. It’s in our multi-million dollar commercials on our televisions, which promise a better life if we buy their expensive product; our schools are trying to empower us to believe we can change the world if we simply believe in ourselves. It’s even come into our relationships as we are on a quest to find the “one,” who will help us live a more fulfilled life.
I think you and I have been lied to.
It seems to me that our the very foundation of discontentment is impatience and ungratefulness. which both are fruits from the deadly tree of pride. I think it’s hard to spot some times we are eating these fruits on a daily basis. It’s a slippery slope–we start to grow impatient when something like a phone breaks or we see the person we are dating for who they are truly, which then leads us to complain or try to find something or someone who solve of all our problems. This leads us down the same road again and again. Even though these things or people can give us temporary happiness, they don’t give us lasting joy. I know because I struggle with this too. The more we eat this disgusting fruit, the less happy and fulfilled we will become.
Last week, I was pouring out my mind and heart to one of my closest friends, which is a nice way of saying I was whining like a baby. I was explaining to him that I’ve been reflecting about my past, the good, bad and ugly memories that have brought me to where I am today: blissful memories of learning to ride a bicycle for the first time without using my hands, being in awe of the stars during a camping trip, winning national senator by a landslide, hearing from students I mentored that I made a difference in their young life, going to New Orleans to do relief work after the hurricanes, meeting grammy award winning artists, local and national politicians and hollywood actors and actresses, to memories I try not to remember like having my heart shattered by my fiance, being beat up by bullies as a child, being hospitalized for depression, friends never coming to birthday parties, being picked last for sports and sitting on the bench for the entire game. I told him that I just didn’t know if what I’ve done had any worth or value, because of what I have gone through.
He looked me in the eye and told me something that I have not forgot. He told me that I had just slapped the God of the universe in the face.
All of these memories have left their impression on my life, but there will come a day when all of these memories will fade away. There is one memory that will not fade, though, because this memory is continuing to shape me into the man I am today. It may have happened over two thousand years ago, but it is the central point of my life and all of human history. Every man, woman, child of human history has been marked by a common deficit: we are all born sinners, which means we have are born with evil hearts and minds. That’s why we have death, famine, pain and suffering. This is not how things were originally suppose to be, because when God had created this world, he made it void of all of those things; he had created things perfect and good. It wasn’t until our first father and mother had disobeyed God that sin and death entered our world. Yet, instead of being bitter and letting us continue to cause destruction in this world, he sent a remedy for all of our sin. Our sin brings death–physical, emotional and spiritual death. There had to be something that could cure us of this curse.
Instead of giving up on us, God graciously sent his son into this world. He wouldn’t be like all the other men who walked on this dirty world before and after him. Jesus, his Son, would be the example of what our lives are to resemble, but also, to become the cure of all of our sin, past, present and future–by dying a death that, because of our sin, we deserved with every ounce of our being. In his final words, he screamed with his last breath: “It is finished,” the work was done. Because of this selfless act, any man or woman who places their trust in Jesus, will be no longer be seen as a sinner but a child of God. And God promises to love us despite our faults, provide all that we need and never leave us. As a sign of this great love, Jesus came back from the dead, alive, showing us that he was the Son of God and to give us hope–hope that despite death and this crazy this world, he is still control and we will live with him forever.
As a someone who has placed my trust in the work of Jesus on my behalf, I have received unconditional love, relentless grace, and the ability to stand before the perfect God of the universe as accepted and forgiven–and it’s all because of Jesus, not my doing. By failing to acknowledge what he has done and continues to do in my life, it is a slap in his beautiful face. He continues to give me many blessings that it doesn’t make sense to me that why I should get them. One of the gifts is a new heart, one filled with contentment, which I believe means being selflessly grateful to everything he has done and continues to do. He loves me, he cares for me, he guides my life, and that is enough. I don’t know what the next twenty-five years will bring into my life, but I am confident that even if things don’t go how I plan them out to be, I will not be alone, for Jesus promises to be the same, today, yesterday and tomorrow. He will not leave me when things get hard or when I wander from him, because he is bigger, stronger and more in control than I am. In his eyes, I am forever loved and accepted. If I am given another hour or year to breath, I want my life to look like his and tell others of this incredible gift that I have been given.