“(Thirty) years now, Where’d they go.
(Thirty) years … I don’t know.
I sit and I wonder sometimes, where they’ve gone.”
- With apologies to Bob Seger’s song “Like a Rock”
I write this the night I attended my thirty-year class reunion. It was good to see so many of my friends; to hear of their joys and pains; and to know they care about me after so long.
Many spoke of the good things that have transpired after thirty years: marriages that have lasted, educations that have paid off, businesses bought and sold, the pride of military service, the honor in completing ‘a good day’s work’ for year after year, and the overwhelming joys of children and grand-children. But, O, the bad things: the aches and pains of growing older, divorce, the rigors of military service for ourselves and our children; friends, parents, and family separated by death; cancer and illness, car wrecks, and the overwhelming sorrow felt for wayward or sick children. A few of these things I have experienced myself.
The pain can be overwhelming at times, it can all seem so meaningless; the suffering we experience because others sin against us and, oftentimes even worse, the shame we experience because we know our sins have made others suffer. Well did the writer of The Biblical Book of Ecclesiastes say of life “under the sun” that it is “Vanity of vanities…vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”
But my outlook is brightened, and anyone else’s can be too. You see, I am a Christian. I am a Christian for many reasons, many of which are written about on this blog.
One of them is that I know Christianity to be true. Christianity explains the world I find myself in better than any other way of seeing things that I have found, and I have searched many different views in the books I have read and the conversations I have had. Christianity is true, and, as Steve Brown says, “Once you’ve seen truth, you can’t un-see it.”
But there is another reason I am a Christian. All of this “vanity and vexation of spirit,” all of these “toils after the wind,” have meaning when you are a Christian. “In all things God works for the good ofthose who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” He turns pain and suffering into something meaningful, something that has a purpose because it is a part of his plan.
Even sinners like us, forgiven because of what Christ did on the cross, are perfectly loved and accepted by God. That same writer of Ecclesiastes wrote of this when he said, “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.”
My high school friends should have the best. I want them to know that God truly does love them, and that he offers a wonderful plan for their lives.
We can see who Jesus is and trust what he did to pay the penalty for our sins. We can turn to Jesus from, not just our sins, but from trying to do better or to do more so that God will accept us.
We turn for our efforts because we know that the good things we do are from impure motives, and, besides, how could what we do now possibly make up for what we have done in the past? If we do what is good now, aren’t we just doing what we should have done anyway? How can what was required earn extra favor to make up for what we have done before?
We can come to Jesus who said, “Come to me, all who laborand are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, forI am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” We can rest all of our hopes on him.