3 Lessons from 3 Decades

I turned 30 today.

Like all introspective writers, I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect, to look back on how God has sustained, blessed, and grown me through my 20s.

I can’t distill three decades into a neat list of lessons learned. I don’t presume to understand how everything in my life so far fits into God’s plan for my good. But I do see a few ways he’s teaching me now—realisations that I pray will bear fruit for another three decades.

Here are three truths I’m learning from our faithful God.

1. Anything that makes me need God is a blessing.

This is a phrase I hear often from the teaching of Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth on Revive Our Hearts. And a friend and I regularly say it to each other when life is wearying or grievous. The older I get, the more I believe it.

The other day, my boyfriend asked how my week had been. Without thinking, I said it hadn’t been a great week and listed off some hard parts about it. Later I realised my mistake: I’d classified my week as bad because it involved adversity.

But “hard” isn’t the same thing as “bad.”

Yes, I’d faced worry and discouragement and overwhelm. But each of those difficulties brought me to God. I prayed more than usual. I felt desperate for the Lord. I was more responsive to the Spirit. I saw God answer my prayers by bringing joy and beauty amid my struggles.

If I’m facing something in my life that makes me see the reality of my utter dependence on God, that takes my mind off the trivialities of this world to plead before the throne of grace, how could I not see it a blessing? Communion with him is better than worldly ease.

So as I enjoyed dessert with a dear friend tonight, I gave her a different assessment of the past couple of weeks. Yes, they’ve been hard. But what a blessing. They’ve been good too, because my Lord feels nearer.

2. God’s mercies are new every morning.

I keep a special notebook where I write down reasons I’m grateful to God. I don’t have a set rhythm for how often I write in it—my goal is to notice and record the Lord’s blessings to me as I go throughout my day.

Earlier this week, I noticed I’d started the notebook in March 2023. It seemed fitting to read through that year’s worth of entries on my birthday.

As I read, I smiled the whole time. Some entries recorded big life events (like the birth of loved ones’ babies). But mostly, I’d noted the little beauties woven throughout my otherwise ordinary days—spectacular sunsets, my niece’s laugh, butterflies, conversations with friends over tea.

There’s beauty and to spare in this life.

Over the past year—and the 29 before that—God hasn’t stopped showering me with his mercies. I’m grateful for the forgiveness I have through Jesus, new life in him, the hope of heaven, my adoption as God’s child. And I’m thankful for his tiny reminders each day that he is there and he is good. He’s not too busy to delight me on a tiring day by bringing my favourite bird into the backyard.

3. We’re almost home.

The hard days and these moments of sublime joy both point me beyond this earthly existence. They remind me that my 30 years, plus whatever time God will give me after today, aren’t all there is.

In suffering, I long for the new heavens and new earth, where God will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:4). Even when I’m not facing any great distress, I always seem to have a friend or two carrying heavy burdens. There’s no escaping the brokenness of our world. So God reminds me we’re almost home. With every passing year, I long more and more to be in Emmanuel’s land—and it won’t be long.

In the big and small joys of life, God is teaching me that my heart should still be marked by longing. His gifts are good, but nothing in this life can fully satisfy me. As Andrew Peterson writes in his song “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone,”

Oh but still, my thirst is never slaked
I am hounded by a restlessness
I am eaten by this endless ache
But still I will give thanks for this

The joys God gives me here are signposts to my true country. They tell me we’re almost home.

I don’t know how many years I have left. Maybe I’ll have another 30 and more besides. Whatever the case, I know I will be led by my Good Shepherd. He’ll draw me near, redeeming the hardest times by the blessing of closer communion with him. He’ll give me a thousand reasons to praise him every day. And he’ll lead me all the way home.

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