Not exciting, but sanctifying
I feel a pang of it every now and then: wanderlust and the pull of an "exciting life," or even just a different life from the one I have. It's followed closely by discontentment and comparison. You see, honestly, I really like (well actually, love) my life, but it's not a particularly exciting one. We aren't world travelers and we generally orbit the same routine most weeks.
In particular, I was browsing through this site which documents a couple's weekend adventures in stunning photos.
I want to do more traveling, and I have dreams and hopes for our life. And that's good! We're created to want to admire beauty and that often leads to worship. God gives us dreams and passions and callings. Our lives have a various callings that will sometime require bravery and diversion from safety and routine. But that calling for certain seasons might be to stay put, work humbly, and be joyfully sanctified in ordinary or even trying circumstances. And sometimes the staying put takes even more bravery.
Our aim in dreaming or adventuring shouldn't be sheerly for the excitement, the thrills, or the picturesque that we can reference later and say, "Look, I visited this place and had this experience, and this is what gave my life meaning."
Your life already has meaning because of the One who made you.
I have to constantly remind myself that as a child of God, my goal is His glory, through my sanctification. I was talking about this with a close friend of mine. Then I said something out loud to my friend and a realization accompanied it:
"An exciting life is not necessarily a sanctifying one."
And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
This verse in Romans is frequently quoted, but (I think) at times it's misrepresented. Yes, God wants good things for us. He wants to bless his children! He's a good father! However, His good might not always equate with our comfort. If you read the next few verses, the end goal is something other than the glorification of our comfort. I read this in my esv study bible's notes:
God weaves everything together for good for his children. The "good" in this context does not refer to earthly comfort but conformity to Christ (v. 29), closer fellowship with God, bearing good fruit for the kingdom, and final glorification (v. 30).
So, practically, what is there to be done? In your waiting or your hurting or your adventuring (wherever you are!):
- Press into the hardship, press past it, to see the sanctifying
- Know that He makes you brave
- And also, take comfort in knowing that the Holy Spirit is interceding for us on our behalf (praying for us!) when we don't have words to pray (see Romans 8:27)
- Give yourself freedom to feel sadness/grief and the accompanying emotions, all the while remembering that God is trustworthy and that suffering is not futile. He doesn't need to be easy to understand for Him to be good.
- Surround yourself with people who help you see sanctification for what it is. All the hard bits, but the refining ones too. These are your people for encouragement and hope and who will help you press on.
God, please help us see past our limited version of "good" to see Your true and everlasting version of good, for our ultimate good and for You glory.
P.S. — This post features pictures from an exciting life (our trip to the Canadian Rockies, which I wrote about in Part I, Part II, and Part III) and a not-so-thrilling-but-still-lovely one (my day-to-day life here in Austin which sometimes involves getting doughnuts with a friend). But don't mistake this for an argument that doughnuts are sanctifying, because they're probably not. ;)