I don’t feel thirty today, but then again, I don’t not feel thirty, either. I feel a little like the blank look that would cross my face if someone told me that, today, I am the square root of purple. Then I think about it for a minute, do some basic math and realize that indeed, I am thirty years old. Yep, thirty. Once I resign myself to this fact, almost immediately I am barraged with a list of my successes and failures over the course of my life thus far. It seems that the failures far outweigh the successes.
But I also realize that my favorite memories from these first three decades of my life are, for the most part, intangible. They are sighs, tastes, songs, all wrapped up in people I love. They are images somewhat jumbled out of order, like the photographs that lie atop my desk in a disorganized pile. They are stars in a country sky and a back porch engagement; little bare feet that approach a tranquil Sunday morning bedside, eager to cuddle in between us before the day truly begins; wet clay under fingernails; smudges of newspaper ink on much younger hands; heat, noise, and life on crowded Nairobi matatus; evenings spent in deep conversation at deliciously aromatic coffee shops with college friends, long before I even drank coffee; climbing trees and building nests out of clumps of dried grass clippings, returning inside only when the night air became too cool; chai and curried rice with friends and trying to hold a conversation in multiple languages; gazing down an aisle at my beloved, who might as well have been the only one in the room; living out biblical community with brothers and sisters who dared to bring soup when I thought we all might very well die from the latest stomach virus; hay bales resting out in the fields that line the road home; eating fresh crepes on the streets of Paris with my beloved; heartbeats signaling new lives, mysterious and wondrous and oddly familiar, too; moments of desperate prayer or deep understanding of God’s Word and knowing, knowing that it was for me.
That I remember these moments is evidence of God’s grace. That they even occurred in the first place is God’s grace, as well. My failures are many, but God’s grace is sufficient . . . and abundant. Though I have deserved nothing, he has lavished his love upon me, giving me life without end through Jesus Christ, which is enough success to cancel out my ever-growing list of failures. If it appears that I should not actually get to count that accomplishment as my own, since it was a gift of God, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, and not by my own ingenuity (Eph. 2:8), then my point is evident: everything good has been by his grace! Oh, to know more of God’s grace in the years and decades to come!