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Every now and then I have a mini-existential crisis. I ask those proverbial why am I here questions and wonder how much of my day-to-day life will even really matter in a hundred years. Longevity is the gold standard, and if something doesn’t last, what’s the point?
This happens when there are strings of days that are all the same, where nothing exciting or momentous or seemingly important happens, when everything runs relatively smooth.
In crisis we don’t have time to ask these silly questions.
It feels like these are the smallest days, where we do the same things again and again. Work. Eat. Sleep. Work. Eat. Sleep. But we’re launching adults into the world and helping our youngest navigate that pre-teen awkwardness. It’s important that we do our job well, and our job seems to be the making of humans better than ourselves. We want our children to climb higher than us, fail less than us, love more than us, and certainly to live longer than us.
We want some of the wrong things.
As for longevity, what lasts longer than a life?
My husband and I talk about time and wonder, as we age, are we accumulating years or losing them? Time is a created thing and things have edges, borders; at death we cross the border into timelessness, where God is. In life, we see Him crashing through the borders and arranging our time and, I believe, actually literally holding our days in His hands.
So as we age—everyone of us, everyday—we are losing time but gaining timelessness.
We don’t generally get philosophical with one another unless it’s late and we have tired bodies but fully-awake brains. This is a kind of pillow-talk, I guess. We’re basically old folks. And these questions don’t matter, except when we stop and review our lives and wonder if we ought to change course.
I guess I think these questions do matter, because I think we should course-correct often.
If we consider these to be small days and our lives to be small blips on a timeless radar, we really are prone to despair. Of all the billions who’ve lived and died and worshiped the wrong things or loved the right things, we are a few people inhabiting a small space.
But God sees every hair that falls and numbers every sparrow (or something like that).
The days matter because we’ve seen an opening for the glory of God to break right in. We have filled our space with our sin, made room for reconciliation, covered over offenses with love, and in so doing we’ve reincarnated the gospel again and again and again.
We are story in process, telling of all His purposes. We matter because Jesus gave everything for us and His story is repeated through every tiny life—mine and yours and all those estranged from the life of God.
The way of peacemaking given us may be something so small that it seems hardly worth doing, but it is these small offerings which build our reflexes for the larger ones. ~ Madeleine L’Engle
It matters that we are gracious during the extra long wait: at the post office, the tire store, the bank, this life.
It matters that we smile at the teller who was just berated for something beyond her control.
It matters that we clean up garbage that’s not ours, that we do a favor that costs us precious time, or return the extra change we could have pocketed.
Do the laundry again. Make another meal. Teach long division again. It matters, not just because we are raising kids to be good stewards of what was once formless and void, this earth made spectacular by a Word; it also matters because we are timeless.
We are building reflexes for larger purposes by being faithful in the small ones.
We call these small things and small days, but a time is really only named accurately after the fact, like Good Friday (which is not at all an appropriate comparison to our current days of raising kids and navigating mid-life).
But we’ll rename these days in the future.
They’ll be better than we currently feel they are. They’ll mean more than we think they do right now.
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