On the Occasion of my 29th Birthday: God is Still Speaking
Tomorrow is my 29th birthday. 29 feels like a strange age to me, as it’s the age many people point to as a sort of “ideal." People joke that they are having their 6th 29th birthday, for example, and 29 has become this weird, revered symbol of not-a-kid-anymore-but-not-an-old-adult yet.
But all I can think about as I approach 29 is how much I have left to live and left to do and be.
There’s this saying in evangelicalism that “God’s not done with me yet.” It’s usually used as an excuse to evade criticism for doing something bad or jerky. I see it most often on bumper stickers, along with the “Sorry about my driving! Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven!” kind of thoughts. But I think that type of interpretation is inappropriate – God’s not done with us yet not because we’re eventually going to be “perfect” holy beings. No, God’s not done with us yet because we have so much to learn about how to treat others and to live as a human. It’s a distinctly humanist statement to proclaim that we are still in the process of being created.
The United Church of Christ has this motto or slogan that “God is Still Speaking.” I remember when I was a naïve college student, I decided this saying was offensive because the Bible means God has spoken. We’re not to add to the scriptures, we’re not to blaspheme God by putting new words in God’s mouth. But such a narrow interpretation assumes a static God, a static deity who is not engaged and present in our world today. This kind of stasis is at odds with the idea that God is not only the creator but the sustainer of life – God not only speaks our world into existence but continues to speak to give us further life. The universe is sustained because of God’s continued Word.
At 29, I’ve done so much with my life. I’ve lived overseas, I have a Master’s degree, I’m a published author, I’ve appeared in national media. But I have still so much more to learn about myself and about the community around me. It’s dangerous for me to think I have everything figured out at this time in life – I’m not even halfway through, even if I live to be the same age as my mother.
At the same time, it’s hard to live in the tension. I currently don’t know where the next year will take me. I could be going to England for graduate school. I could be moving to Minneapolis. I could be moving back in with my dad. Sometimes, knowing that God is still speaking and that you don’t yet know what God is going to say is the scariest thing of all.
But one thing I do know. At 29, I’ve been blogging in a professional capacity for five years now. This is most of my adult life. And you readers, some of whom have been there since the beginning, have been a massive boon to me as I moved forward in my writing career. I deeply appreciate the kind words, the challenges, the discussions and the debates from all of you. And I hope we have many happy years ahead.
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