By Robert Green
When I was twenty-five, I believed I could change the world. Now, well into my 40s, I have come to the realization, that I cannot change my wife, kids, or church—to say nothing of the world. Try as I might, I have not been able to manufacture outcomes the way I thought I could, either in my life or other people’s.
What is it for you? Unfulfilled dreams, ongoing relational tension, the loss of friends, a hard marriage, rebellious teenagers, the death of someone you love, recurring sinful patterns or whatever it is for you. Live long enough, lose enough, suffer enough, and the idealism of youth fades, leaving behind the reality that we live in a broken world as broken people.
Life has had a way of proving to me that I’m not on the constantly forward-moving escalator of progress I thought I was on when I was twenty-five.
Instead, it’s looked more like this—try and fail. Fail, then try. Try and succeed. Succeed then fail. Every year, I get better at some things, worse at others. Some remain stubbornly static. To complicate matters, when I acknowledge the ways I’ve gotten worse, it’s actually a sign that I may be getting better. And when I become proud of the ways I’ve gotten better, it’s actually a sign that I’ve gotten worse. And round and round we go.
If this sounds depressing, it isn’t meant to. Quite the opposite. If I am grateful for anything about these last twenty plus years, it’s for the way God has wrecked my idealism. He has wrecked my idealism about myself, and the world, and replaced it with a realism about the extent of His grace and love, which is much bigger than I had ever imagined.
Indeed, the smaller you get—the smaller life makes you—the easier it is to see the grandeur of grace. While I am far more incapable than I may have initially thought, God is infinitely more capable than I ever hoped.
Robert Green is the senior pastor at Fondren Church. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.