In retrospect, my late forties was when it all started. I didn’t know it was a midlife crisis. I thought more along the lines that I had lost my way, I had wandered off the path that God was leading me on but somehow got lost.
I spent so much time trying to get back to the path , it felt like I was stuck in quick sand. I couldn’t have been more wrong about the way I was seeing things.
When I was twenty two I had an experience that changed my life in a big way. I later learned that it was what Christians call being born again. God took over my being, everything was God this, God that, Jesus loves you, Jesus loves me, man Jesus even loves my 8th grade teacher who gave me a failing grade.
I was so full of this new phenomenon in my life I even tried to convert my ever-loving and understanding Jewish parents. Not only did I deliver the “you will never make it into heaven unless you repent and give your life over to Jesus” followed by “you need to give up everything to follow Jesus, like the early disciples did”. But that is a story for another time.
I was on fire for God, my faith grew in leaps and bounds, I went from being a babe in Christ to trying to take over the world for God single-handed. I learned to witness, preach the gospel, read my bible, pray, spout bible verses, be a missionary in foreign lands, teach others to teach others. Got married, had kids, cloned my children in the way. I was a man on a mission. In my own eyes I was the perfect child of God.
Gradually without warning my self-made persona started to crack. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong and I felt hopeless and helpless to do anything about it. God surely abandoned me in my time of need.
From going from believing that God spoke to me at every turn, his presence ever so immediate, feeling so special that nothing could touch me. His voice became less obvious. His presence hidden from my daily life.
I felt like I was doing something wrong, surely God was mad at me to hide himself from me. I was taking this all too personally. I wasn’t seeing the forest for the trees.
Most recently I have been encouraged by one of our most revered bible characters; Moses.
Here was a man who was not only spared from death as a child but because of the foresight of his parents he not only lived but was raised in the house of the ruler of the most powerful country at the time.
The bible doesn’t really say but using our imagination Moses must have had the world at his feet. A prince being prepped for great things in his adopted fathers kingdom. He was probably full of himself too.
Driving through the cities in his fancy chariots, attending all the best parties, strutting through the streets flexing his muscles feeling the top of the world as the peons bow as he passed.
Then in one moment of insanity that all comes to an abrupt end when he kills a fellow Egyptian as they were picking on one of Jewish slaves. You know the story. He had to flee and wound up in the middle of nowhere tending cattle for a man who took him in and gave him one of his daughters to marry. A new unexpected life.
Around the age of forty Moses virtually lost everything he had lived for, Driven away you may rightly point out by his own stupid impulsive bad temper or sense of justice.
So our dear Moses spends the next forty years in virtual exile. Talk about a midlife crisis.
I would love to have been a fly on the wall or tent and take in all that Moses suffered and learned during that time. From a brash “I can do anything I please” upstart to a man so broken that when God said “OK buddy, I think your ready, your people are ready, all the pieces are in place, its time for you to do what you were born to do”, he virtually begged God to pick someone else.
The bible doesn’t say much about what Moses went through inside but now I can sort of relate and understand to some degree of what it takes to become ready for the call.
Perhaps it took Moses forty years because he was so resistant to change or there was so much to strip away of his old life. Either way God is patient as He waits for us to shed the past and prepares our hearts for the future.
The last twenty years of my life has built up to being one hell-of-a midlife crisis. For the most part I hadn’t understood God’s plan.
To be honest I still don’t. But God is giving me some semblance of understanding that He is in control. If it takes one year or forty years, God is will wait till we are ready for whatever it is He needs us for.
Now I believe I have turned a corner. I understand now that God has not been angry with me but has used the situation that I had gotten my self into so as to make me a better man by stripping me of myself.
God may not be prepping me for a higher calling in this world, or a greater mission with more meaning than what I am doing now but I do know that God doesn’t make mistakes and he doesn’t waste the life that he gives us as long as we see Him in everything that comes our way.
Have you felt that God has abandoned you? Do you feel its going on far too long? Are you at the point of giving up? Do you say “I can’t can’t take this any more” more often than you should?
Then yes, welcome to the club, you are going through a midlife crisis: God’s way.
Growing up I loved spy movies. I especially liked the ones where the Russians would send undercover agents to America to blend in with American society and wait until they are called on to spy or do some sort of dirty deeds for their mother country. Sometimes they would send single men or women to marry an American, or even couples to blend in, raise a family, become an indispensable member of the community etc.
Sometimes you could get half way through the movie until you realized that this couple or individual who you grew to like and see as the protagonist turns out to be a “traitor”.
But how did these spies stay on track as they infiltrated society and blended in so they would seem, at least outwardly that they were just like any garden variety suburbanite.
Enter the handler. There is always a handler. Another Russian spy, usually working for the Russian embassy or consulate and always has diplomatic immunity.
His job is to make sure the fake Americans stay on track, keep the motherland first and foremost in their minds and to be prepared for the day they will be called on to “spy”. Or perhaps they have already been spying and passing on information to the handler. His job is to make sure that his charges don’t get sucked into society, don’t get too comfortable. Or worse get turned and become a red white and blue American. The handler is essential to the success of the mission. The mission is to do what they are asked to do and the end result is to return to the motherland in one piece.
Being a true believer, a christian in this world is not much different. If you are truly born again, then you know how different you are to the world we live in. We should never feel as though we fit in. We should always understand that our time here on this earth is temporary. We were sent to do a job, a special mission for each of us. Though many of us may not know what that mission is until later in life, we spend our time fitting into society waiting for the call, knowing it will come.
So we pass our time trying our best to be one with our surroundings, we get secular jobs, we join churches, we go to schools and learn the ways of the world, we fit in. But we understand that this world is not our real home. We know that we are just passing through and we were sent to to fulfill a purpose.
With temptation all round us it is imperative to not allow ourselves to get sucked in. The world calls us to give in and become one, not just outwardly but inwardly too. Oh, how difficult it is at times to remain seperate in our hearts to the ways of the world knowing it is our duty to live in a world that is not ours. We can’t do this on our own.
Enter the handler.
Jesus. The perfect man for the job.
He knows us, he loves us, he understands us but most importantly he trusts us. He knows he can depend on us when the time comes. He looks past our frailties and our human weaknesses. He handles us like a pro because he has been here before. He keeps us on track, always reminding us of the bigger picture. He continues to remind us that this world is not our home, we are just passing through. He too is essential to the success of our mission.
When our mission is complete he will then say to us, great job guys, you did good, you can come home to the Mother Land. Heaven.
We press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God… Ph 3:14 The christian world, those who strive to find God’s calling in their lives continue to press forward each day, hoping they will someday find that elusive calling or purpose in their lives that God promised.
Perhaps it’s God’s way of keeping us struggling forward knowing that he has to dangle the bait in front of us to keep moving, never stagnating, never being completely satisfied with this life on earth.
Content? Yes. Satisfied? Never
We have a wise God.
One of my favorite go to verses when I get stuck in a situation that needs a do over is Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” ( KJV)
The Word usually gives me instant relief even if only for a split second. It’s God telling me; “hey, I got your back, everything is going to be alright, this situation is under control and it will work out just fine, trust me.”
That should be all I need to hear, the end of the matter, give it to God, He’s in control, off to the next solution.
But by the time I get to the back-end of that verse “…to them who are the called according to his purpose” , my faith takes a dive faster than a stealth bomber.
Over the years I doubted my calling, I wondered where it went, why God didn’t pick me when he handed them out or I left it behind somewhere and couldn’t find it or I hadn’t proved my self by my own works to even be worthy of a calling and the worse case scenario, God just took it from me because I stopped using it.
Oh my, what a meal I made of it.
“Duh, Sammy, that is why He died on the cross so you can have a purpose. The whole point of being born again, is to give you a new purpose in life, that’s your calling, everyone is called for a purpose who comes to Jesus.” Of course I was called according to His purpose.
Oh the simple truths. So what if it took me until almost retirement age to see that little tidbit of truth. At least now I can glue the second half of that verse back into my bible and to know without a shadow of a doubt that I am called according to his purpose therefore all things will work out for good because I not only love him but I am called with a purpose.
Well, with that little gem tucked away and my faith restored I can go back to sleep knowing that God is working behind the scenes tirelessly (and relentlessly I should add) making sure everything is oiled in my life and running the way it should.
Better late than never takes on a whole new meaning for me.
My calling has not changed since Jesus came into my life some 40 odd years ago sitting under an oak tree somewhere in Canada. When Jesus came into my life at that specific time he also showed me His calling for my life although I probably didn’t realize it at the time as I had no idea how to process the experience I was going through.
Going from a young Jewish man of 23 to a believer in Jesus in an instant, actually over night as I camped out alone under this tree. Waking in the morning with a new life that later I found out was being born again.
Leaving the oak tree behind I walked down that path with not only a new outlook on life but Jesus’ love burning in my heart. All I wanted to do was tell others about him. I did just that for some time, at least the little I knew or understood. The fire burning in my heart was nothing less than being filled with the holy spirit.
Not long after I met my church of Christians who were able to spoon feed me the daily food I needed to grow inside spiritually and get to know intimately this new friend that transplanted my heart in an instant.
My calling was clear. To share God’s love with others through Jesus. The means and gifts and talents and missions that God gave me varied over the years but my calling remained the same.
‘The gifts and calling of God are without repentance’ (Romans 11:28 KJV) and if I may add to that, I can remember someone once telling me that it also means that God doesn’t change his mind when he passes out the talents and he knows who to give them to.
Each one of us was called the day we made the decision to live for Jesus. I believe that calling does not change, it remains the same. The difficulty was, as time wore on and I became encumbered with the cares of this world, relationships, family, children, friends, habits, work, supply, health and the myriad of problems that are associated with each, I lost sight of the most important job God gave me to do, and that is my calling.
It’s no wonder that for so many years I felt God was purposely keeping that elusive calling from me when all the time it already had been given to me in the beginning. The calling never changed. I did.
Let me put it this way. He wouldn’t save us without a calling. It’s there, it always has been. Just go back to the beginning and get it off the shelf.