I recently had a birthday, so my sweet husband announced the fact to everybody in our community group and told them *wink, wink* that I had turned 28. The only problem was that I didn’t see him wink, and 28 didn’t sound way off to me. Instead of smiling at his joke, I protested that he shouldn’t be giving up my age. Oops.
28. I haven’t been 28 for ten years now. I didn’t even have children yet when I was 28. 28 should sound wrong to my ears, but it doesn’t. I feel 28, or at least 32. I certainly don’t feel the age I really am.
Why? It’s not that I’m in outstanding physical shape. I don’t exercise enough lately. I’m tired from not getting enough sleep. I’m busy. Shouldn’t I feel my age?
I know I’m not the only one. I’ve heard other people, 76 year-old grandfathers looking in the mirror, wondering how they ended up looking the way they do. When did all those wrinkles appear? They report feeling like much younger men than their reflection shows.
Surprise doesn’t just come when we look at ourselves. I can’t believe my eight year old is as old as he is. Wasn’t he just a baby toddling around my house taking his first steps? How many times have I been shocked by the growth I’ve noticed in a friend’s child I haven’t seen in a while?
Why in the world does the passage of time surprise us? We were born in time; we’ve known it and the aging it does to us all our lives.
C.S. Lewis has an answer I read in one of my favorite books, A Severe Mercy, that’s always resonated with me. In this book, Lewis writes to the author, convincing him of the truth of Christianity. He says,
“Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Or if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or [would] not always be, purely aquatic creatures? Notice how we are perpetually surprised at Time. (“How time flies! Fancy John being grown-up & married! I can hardly believe it!”) In heaven’s name, why? Unless, indeed, there is something in us which is not temporal” (pg. 93).
Why am I so surprised that I am ten years older than I feel? Why do so many others feel the same surprise at the passing of time? I believe it is because we were made for eternity. The disconnect between the mortal body and immortal soul is jarring at times.
This surprise we feel is good, then. It provides a proof for an afterlife and points us back to the One in charge of our eternal destiny, which gives hope.
This world may be full of death and dying, aging, pain, and sadness, but each time we feel ourselves start with surprise over how fast our time is here, we can turn back to that hope. “But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” (Rom. 8:25). In other words, if we have hope, it will be much easier to persevere to the end, to stay faithful through any suffering. After all, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast” (Heb. 6:19).
To finish, I will give this blessing alongside of Paul: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13). May your hope in your own strength be weak; may your hope in Jesus be strong.
I’m in the middle of a book giveaway, in which I get to give away one free copy of 66 Ways God Loves You by Jennifer Rothschild! I hope others will enjoy it the way I did. To enter, subscribe to my blog:
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I will announce the winner this coming Saturday, so look for it! Thank you!