Recently, I was speaking with some good friends who are right in the middle of the baby and toddler stage of life. As we talked about what it means to follow Jesus and experience God’s presence with us, we noted how different things are for them now compared with their student years. In those early years they had lots of discretionary time and very few responsibilities. For them to spend unhurried time with the Lord was not especially difficult. Now, however, with family and work commitments and a severe lack of sleep, they struggle to do the basics to keep their young family running, let alone spending unhurried time with God. In this state of things, it can be easy to think they are living a second-class faith compared to those early years.
But surely, this is wrong. As Psalm 103:4 tells us, the Lord “knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” He knows the hurdles and difficulties we face as we live through all the various stages of our normal lives. He knows the folly and wastefulness of our youth, the exasperation and exhaustion of our middle years, and the forgetfulness and frailties of our latter years. He knows us well, and loves us completely. And he calls us to follow as best we can, wherever we are, whoever we’re with, and whatever stage of life we are in.
It may not be easy but we are called to follow Jesus as we struggle with murky work ethics and no sleep at home and awkward relationships with our neighbours. We live in the real world and so our call is to be real world disciples. John 1:14 tells us “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood.” Jesus lived with slow transport, inefficient communication, uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, no bank account and many thorny situations with challenging people.
Let’s follow him to find good news in the mess, not despite it.