Spectacular joys come to older ones in the faith as we get to witness the next generation of servants coming of age. By coming of age I don’t mean numerically. There will always be individuals in Christ who hardly grow beyond their salvation and will wonder to the grave why God never came through with that meaningful life they thought they were supposed to receive. But the distractions of the world are enormous, demanding and titillating and, well, the phone and all. That we can be in Christ and immersed in a community of faith but never fulfill our calling is clear from places in Scripture like Colossians 4:17 where Paul told the brothers at Colossae,
And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”
No need to exhort somebody to fulfill a ministry if it’s not possible to leave it unfulfilled.
There will always be those who are enormously gifted and hold tremendous potential to impact community and globe for the kingdom of God but, like the unfaithful steward in Matthew 25, will bury what they’ve been given until Jesus returns, at which point they’ll hand it back to Him looking pretty much like it did when they got it. They lost interest. But they are not my concern today as I write this article. These words are to those of you who are doing what it takes. Who are in the thing up to your necks. You, who are coming of age in your calling, though God knows that, most of the time, if you’re like me, you’re not even sure how you got there. Oh, you could try to tell someone younger what steps you took. You could write a blog post about it. You could do a very effective Q&A on a panel about it. You could even write a book about it, but you know dang well deep in your heart that you really had no earthly idea what you were doing. All you can say at the end of the day is that you kept doing something—the next thing—however awkwardly, and perhaps even embarrassingly as you look back on it, to somehow serve Jesus. And, lo and behold, something finally started working. Not all the time, of course, but often enough to realize you might be onto something. You might be onto your calling. This season of your calling. Your works are producing fruit. You have this sense that you are where you are supposed to be for now.
That’s what I mean by coming of age.
Though it’s not about chronological age, it often corresponds enough for most of you to be in your 30s and 40s.
Man, it’s a gorgeous thing for your older brothers and sisters to behold. To get to cheer you on cheers me in a way I find ridiculously exhilarating. Right here on the spot I could list one hundred different names off the top of my head of men and women doing the thing. Some of you I get the chance to watch close up. Hands on. You delight me to no end. First and foremost, my daughters. My son-in-law. My spiritual sons and daughters. Others from across the room at church and others by phone and face-to-face as often as possible, like my beloved Priscilla Shirer. Good Lord, how I love her. Others of you on social media, which I love, by the way, and on which I’ve made some connections that really do have an ounce of substance to them. Jefferson Bethke, for instance. So many like him. Men and women. These relationships mean something to me. Their names are in my prayer journal. About eight young women communicators and Bible teachers are on my mind almost every day and jotted down regularly in a square in my prayer journal.
And I get to see you prosper in the Holy Spirit. I get to see your life bear fruit. I get to celebrate what God is doing through you. And I get to squirm, rub my forehead and groan—often audibly—as I watch you awaken to the war. That is why I’m writing today.
You didn’t know it was going to be like this.
You had no idea what you’d stepped into.
You think you must have done something wrong to make it this hard. When you started out, it wasn’t like this.
You haven’t really told anyone. Or not very many. Mainly because you’re too embarrassed.
You have no idea that every other person worth his/her salt in the kingdom of the living Christ is either going to go through their own version of the same thing or they are enduring it that very minute.
And it is hellacious.