Today I share part 2 of a letter written to myself for my 26th birthday. My prompt? These words from A.W. Tozer: “When our Lord looked at us, He saw not only what we were — He was faithful in seeing what we could become! He took away the curse of being and gave us the glorious blessing of becoming.” Part 1 found here.
Living locally is a life-giving endeavor. By all means, enjoy an Egg McMuffin from McDonalds, use two-day shipping from Amazon Prime and vote for a president. But know your neighbors, attend a church near your home if possible, make an effort to meet the cashiers at the grocery store, sit on your front porch and drink wine with your neighbors and attend city council meetings.
“All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful” (Flannery O’Connor). Grace will hurt more than you can imagine right now. But we must die to be reborn. And that is worth it.
Be vulnerable and dare greatly. Show the darkest parts of your heart and mind to those you trust. Take a chance on a new business venture, friendship, recipe, exercise technique, writing assignment. Sometimes you’ll fail, and sometimes you’ll succeed. But your place will “never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat” (Roosevelt).
Despite the worldview camps you attended and the apologetics you learned in high school, you will doubt the existence of God almost daily. You’ll wonder, like Solomon, if all is simply meaningless. So, you’ll read C.S. Lewis and listen to Tim Keller, and it will help a lot. You’ll recall your own story and your heart will soften. Then you’ll sing (mostly hymns and Johnny Cash) and go to church and walk through the liturgy of adoration, confession, belief, the Lord’s Supper. And you’ll know what you believe, for we are what we worship.
The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. That defining event of the New Testament tells us that life will conquer death, this world matters to God, you and your tribe are not the hope of this world and the story isn’t over until Jesus comes again and makes all things new. The cross is vital. Return and stay there as often as needed. Then always turn your eyes to the empty tomb.
You are more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe, yet at the very same time you are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than you ever dared hope (a Tim Keller paraphrase).
Now, lest you read this list and think you have your life and beliefs squared away by the sweet age of 26, you certainly don’t. The difference between 16-year-old Abby and 26-year-old Abby is that you know you will change in the years to come. And, you know that change is not to be feared, but patiently, readily anticipated as a gift.
Go with God into these next 10 years,