Whether we want to admit it or not, experience teaches us that life is a perpetual, relentless process of decay, one that we know inevitably leads toward death. And this fills many of us with a certain amount of angst. Some try to relieve their dread by immersing themselves in mind-numbing entertainment or chemical substances. Others try to live vicariously through their kids or through celebrities. And some simply try not to think about it by pouring themselves into their work or some other interest.
In our youth-worshipping culture, there are many who fight this road of decay with Botox, face-lifts, and other such anti-aging techniques. Others try to desperately hold on to their “glory days” as Bruce Springsteen sang, by dreaming about their wonderful past. And many who have reached middle age and find themselves disappointed with their life try to go back and relive their “glory days.”
These actions are driven by a fear. It’s not just a fear that we are going to die. It’s a fear that we’ll never really live. We fear that we will come to the point in which we realize that it’s over and that we don’t have as much to say as we thought we would.
Once we had dreams. We were going to be somebody. Our life, our achievements, our impact, our marriage, our family was going to be exceptional. But for the most of us, the unrelenting monotonous cycle of days has dampened, and perhaps even snuffed out, many of our dreams about the life we would lead.
In the midst of this reality, we find true life when we realize that we have already died to everything decay and death could ever threaten to take away. When we receive the freedom that only comes by being in God’s presence, our treasure is no longer in things that moths can eat and thieves can steal (Matt 6:19-20). Our heart is no longer set on things that aging and misfortune can affect. Our life is secularly hidden in Christ, whose love never changes (Col 3:1-3). In fact, to the extent that we’re surrendered to God, we’ve “been crucified with Christ and [we] no longer live, but Christ lives in [us]” (Gal 2:20).
This is why Jesus told his disciples never to worry—despite the fact that they were going to face persecution and death (Matt 6:25-34). When God’s love becomes our sole source of life, we will not be controlled by regrets about the past or fears about the future, for we are fulfilled by God in the present. We learn from the past mistakes, of course, and make ordinary plans about the future. But anchored in the fullness of the life we find in God in the present, we’re freed from the pointless, idolatrous exercise of judging our past and trying to make more of ourselves in the future.
All that matters is that we live in the presence of God’s love right now, and there we find life.
—Adapted from Present Perfect, pages 63-72