Most of us know how that sentence ends: “Time flies when you’re having fun.” But sometimes it’s not that you are having fun, per se. It’s more like life has restarted in high gear. Ever since Israel began opening up again at the end of March, just before Passover, life has moved into high gear.
I’ve had lots of things on my heart I wanted to share with you, but no time to shape them into a blog post. So much has happened in the past couple of months since I last posted. Several holidays have come and gone, Passover, Holocaust Memorial Day, Independence Day, I missed my annual Passover post, and soon we’ll be celebrating Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost). I’ve been on a retreat over the Passover holidays, enjoyed the first full congregation meeting of my church in several months, celebrated holidays with friends for the first time in a year, and been busy at work. The gym reopened, and I’m trying to get back into regular swimming. It seems like life is back to normal.
The illusion of normal
However, no matter how much it seems like life is getting back to normal, its not really. When I go to the pool I no longer see the same people who used to come regularly. Wherever I go, some people are wearing masks, others are not. Our church still cannot meet regularly since our members exceed the space limitations mandated by law for indoor meetings. So, we have small group meetings – outdoors. Thankfully, the Chinese Congregation is rather small, so we are able to meet indoors without most of the restrictions.
Many of us feel like the freedom we are now experiencing is short-lived, but we don’t really know why. All we can do is be thankful for what we have now, and seek to use what we’ve been given wisely. We’ve had to realize that we are not in control of the new normal, and that control really is an illusion. In fact, we are not in control of much more beyond our choices and how we respond when the world spins out of control.
A shocking realization
In the midst of all that has been happening, I’ve made a shocking realization – or rather – I’ve finally had to accept reality. News flash: I’m getting older, or rather, my body is getting older (I’d like to think my spirit is staying young, though I admit, being childlike rather than childish is still a struggle for me!). From the time I was little, I loved the story of Peter Pan. “I won’t grow up” was my motto and a song I even sang on my 50th birthday.
However, recent events have reminded me that I did grow up, I have grown up, and now, yes, unless the Lord takes me home first, I will continue to get older. I don’t like the idea of growing older – not at all!
Revelations from a fall
I didn’t realize how much I’d been denying the fact that I’m getting older, nor how much I feared it, until I went away for a few days with friends over Passover. We went down south to Mitzpe Rimon, a desert area in the Negev of Israel.
One morning I decided to go for a walk by myself to see what was in the neighborhood. I was surprised to find a huge park only a couple of blocks from where we were staying. In my eyes, there is a harsh beauty to the wilderness, particularly in the thorny bushes that seem barely alive until you draw near and realize that there really are leaves on the brown thorny branches.
I looked up at a slight hill and thought it would be nice to see the view from there. (The hill is shown in the featured picture to this post). It didn’t look very steep, whereas the road going up to the top was rather long and meandering. I figured it would be easier to climb the hill. Like I said, it really didn’t look that steep.
I didn’t realize that although the hill was not steep, it was covered with sharp rocks that lay on very soft, sandy ground – talk about a slippery slope! Think, walking on a sandy beach that is actually a hill, covered with sharp rocks.
Have you guessed what happened? 😊 I think so… Yup, I had not taken very many steps when the earth sank under my feet, the rocks slid, and I fell – first on my knees, and then flat – but somehow able to keep my head up and so not getting my face smashed in. But oh, did my knees hurt.
There I was alone, laying flat on my face and wondering how I was going to get up. Wherever I placed my hands, sharp rocks. I finally realized that I would have to grit my teeth, bend my knees into the sandy sharpness, and push myself up. But between changing positions and getting up, I sat there a few moments, trying to feel sorry for myself, but realizing I needed to ask God to help me.
Ever so gently, I felt Him speaking to my heart, “You don’t want to admit that you cannot do things by yourself, without help, like you used to.”
I didn’t respond, just listened, and felt the Lord telling me, “you are afraid of growing old.”
The truth of that whisper resonated through my being, and as I struggled to understand this, I finally was able to push myself up (and yes, it did hurt, and I did have a couple of scratches that took three weeks to heal), and walk slowly back to my lodging.
Denial of a lifelong fear
For a long time now, I’d been feeling that something was blocking my relationship with the Lord. But I couldn’t put my finger on it. But as I walked, I thought a lot about what the Lord had shown me. I recalled how, as a child, old people had frightened me. I recalled my love for Peter Pan, and my desire to never grow up, which had morphed into, “I won’t grow old.” And as I looked back, clarity arrived and I realized that God had truly ministered to me a freeing understanding. I was terrified of the indignities of growing old. But since I was aging, and starting to feel some of those changes in my body, all I could do was deny them. But when I go into denial, I’m refusing to deal with reality and then I don’t handle life well at all – at least not in my heart.
And that denial was interfering with my relationship with God because…
I don’t like to ask for help from others
The problem with not asking for help from others is that it usually morphs into not asking for help from God. The more I fight for my independence and to be in control of my life, the less likely I am to ask for God’s help because His help usually means I have to let Him be in control and that I have to trust Him.
While I believed God is totally trustworthy, having to put Him to the test, so to speak, means admitting my helplessness. And so, I was avoiding asking God for help when I knew full well that only He can help me, and He often chooses to do it through others.
Getting back on track
I didn’t know how much this childhood, childish fear of aging had affected me. But now that I do, I am set free to give it to my Lord and ask Jesus to help me with this as well. When I stop to think about it all, I realize how thankful I am for this: That it is God who is in full control. I can trust Him to lead me in His paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. And I whisper to the child in my heart, “silly girl, why did you fear?”
And so, spiritually, I rise up from the sinking sand and get back onto the solid rock, and stand, and walk – holding His hand, now and into my old age.
So really, these past couple of months of silence from me are also part of me getting back on track with the Lord. They are a reflection of how much I’ve been struggling with these issues and just didn’t have the energy to share with others.
However, I made a promise to Him, myself, and you that I would be honest and real in whatever I shared in my blog. I wanted to share with you what has been happening. Ultimately, this blog isn’t about me but about God’s faithfulness, mercy, and love. As I share how much my precious Savior loves and cares for me… my prayer is that you will see that if He can carry me through my very real struggles, then I know He can and is carrying you.
Scripture for thought
During my morning devotions this week, I “discovered” the following very comforting verses:
Even to your old age I will be the same,Isaiah 64:4
until you are gray I will carry you.
I have done it; I will bear you;
I will carry you; I will deliver you.
Thank you Jesus, that You are my very present Lord, living in me through Your Spirit. Thank You that Your word was true then, and it is true now – for all who belong to You. Thank You that whatever our circumstances, You are carrying us, and You always will. Amen.