I have always said that I look forward to turning 40 because it feels like that is an age where people of many ages (perhaps not all!) respect your thoughts and opinions. I remember being 20 and in college, longing to be 40. OK, not LONGING but not dreading. Anticipating. Now that I am mid-way through my 30's I wonder if it will be all I have anticipated. I must be honest and say that I didn't much care for turning 35 this month. Really, though, it does not much matter if I like it or not. Thirty-five is here, and 40 is near. No amount of pondering will change that!
I listened to a John Piper sermon today that incapsulated one primary lesson I have been learning for the past decade. In speaking of Romans 12 (of course!), he made the point that what the world wants to see from Christian believers is ACTION. And MERCY is what will blow them away. Very simply, says Paul, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."
Being a wife. Mothering children. These are extremely physical occupations: Pulling my head off a pillow to take a little boy potty at midnight. Wrapping my arms around a crying boy who is too upset to verbalize anything. Kissing a boy good night. Reading aloud another chapter of a book that delights a boy's ear and imagination. Tossing a toddler in the air. Changing the diaper of a squirmer. Cooking another meal. Bagging up groceries. Sweeping crumbs. Making sack lunches at nine at night. Offering up myself to my love. Packing and unpacking countless bags. Holding my tongue when my love arrives home later than promised. Offering a smile instead of scorn.
My wilingness to do these things has become less about "doing what I ought" and increasingly about and motivated by my love for the Lord. I desire to present every part of my body as a living sacrifice.
But it is not a "poor me" sacrifice. The verse disallows that! See it there? The sacrifice must be ACCEPTABLE to God. He is not pleased with a woe-is-me attitude. So I note that the change in me over this decade has NOT be an increased willingness to put myself last. The gradual change in me has been a real desire to see each opportunity as a way to use my body for righteousness - in order to glorify the Lord.
My ego-centric self would like to see a day when what I say and do is respected by all. But what rubbish it would be to long for and strive for such a passing reward. Instead, I will look forward to 45 and 55 and 65 and 75 with eagerness and with great hope that the Lord would increase in me the Mercies of God as I worship the Lord with every part of my body.
If you are interested in Piper's sermon (it was really great!) here is the link.