Yesterday was the warmest day we’ve had, by far, all month. The thermometer hit a whopping 79 degrees at its highest point, we had the windows open, and the kids were wearing t-shirts and shorts while playing outside. We’ve been battling an odd combination of strep throat and mild flu in our home, so I stayed home with three of the kids while Bradley took the other two to church. Once the baby was down for his morning nap, I sent the other two out back for some fresh air and I curled up on the couch with my kindle. Not one to typically purchase books, I had recently found Shannan Martin’s book, Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted, on sale for $2.99. I snatched it up fast because I had heard so many good things about her story and I was curious.
Y’all, I cannot put this book down. Between my morning on the couch, a small stint outside watching the kids play, afternoon nap time, and about an hour before I fell asleep last night, I made it almost through the entire book. Not only is Shannan’s writing beautiful, but her story is one that will knock you over in all the right kinds of ways making you feel uncomfortable and dissatisfied with your middle-class American life.
Isn’t that the kind of book you want to read?
Perhaps it should be. Because if there’s anything I’ve come away from this book with it’s a desire to be different. To think differently about my relationships, my spending, my time, my willingness to sacrifice and be used up for others in the name of Jesus.
As I continue to read Shannan’s story, one of drastic change and love for the sake of the gospel, I find myself struggling with feelings of regret. Regret that I haven’t lived up, or followed through or pushed the limit.
Some are small ways, like the fact that we wanted to do Advent readings with our kids all month, and last night was the second time it’s happened. We’ve missed two entire Sundays of Advent, not to mention the other 17 or so days. We wanted to host our neighbors for a cookout this year, a sort of block party so everyone could get to know each other. Hasn’t happened. We’ve had multiple conversations about ways our family can serve those around us only to find that our ideas never get beyond the front door.
I haven’t served enough, given enough, cared enough, loved enough, risked enough….it’s easy to begin wallowing in regret over whatever hasn’t been enough and waiting for another chance next year.
But I’m sure you’re not having these kinds of thoughts. Another year coming to an end and I bet you have lived up exactly as you wanted to all of your own expectations. No? Maybe I’m not alone after all.
And you know what? My Mom reminded me, when I told her how discouraged I was over the fact that we hadn’t done all the fun things I had wanted to during this Christmas season, she said, “It’s not too late.”
So, that’s what I’m telling myself, and you: It’s not too late.
The calendar hasn’t flipped over to 2017. Today is just beginning. And maybe that’s all we have. We aren’t promised tomorrow, or even lunch time. The time is now. With the exception perhaps of our spiritual slothfulness, there is nothing stopping us.
It’s never too late to change bad habits, give generously, invite someone over, knock on a door and introduce yourself, memorize a verse, apologize to the people you love. It’s never too late to consider that perhaps the life you’ve been given, the one you worked hard to achieve, isn’t really the way God wants you to live.
Maybe today that means a sacrifice of time fulfilling what just has to get done before Christmas. It might be a sacrifice of comfort so someone else’s needs can be met. It might be a sacrifice of reputation in order to take the low place of humility. Maybe it’s a simple act of love that might get rejected. It might look like quitting a job, moving across town or across the world, adopting an orphan, or simply choosing to invest in the people around us.
I’m not sure. And I don’t even know what my days are going to look like. But I do know that I’m going to stop dwelling on all my regrets and start moving forward.
Because it’s never too late to lose ourselves for the sake of the gospel.