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When Life Begins

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This is what the LORD says—he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.

Isaiah 44:2

The day I graduated from college, my father gave me a card that read, “Alexander conquered the world at 25, Aristotle civilized it at 27, and Jesus saved it at 30. What are your plans?” We all got a good laugh, but the point was made: there is no mystical age at which life really begins.

From the womb, we are told in Scripture, God has a plan for each of us. We not only are men and women but also boys and girls of destiny, and life is nothing less than the opportunity to live that destiny into fruition. It doesn’t magically begin in college when we choose our major nor come to a grinding halt when we retire. Destiny, a.k.a. God’s Providence, is an equal-opportunity employer; the choices we make at age seven bear on who we become at 70. So no age is more important than another. Though the stakes may rise as we age, our boat was pushed from the shore at our conception, and everything we do and say from that point on (or that is done and said to us) has some bearing on . . . well, on our bearings.

I like the metaphor of life as a journey at sea because I prefer to see God’s Providence more as compass than roadmap. We aren’t given every turn in the road, warned of every pothole, or alerted to every change in scenery. But we receive a general direction, and the choices we make at every stage—and age—along the way either move us in that direction or away from it. It really is that simple: anything we do either moves us toward or away from God’s call on our lives. Compasses don’t forecast the weather, either. Storms will hit because no one, at any age, is exempt from life’s joys and tragedies.

A tendency in our culture, especially among those of us under 40, is to wait to make commitments. We marry later, avoid single lines of work, don’t live all our lives in one place. We are an itinerant generation moving from relationship to relationship, job to job, diet to diet, in search of our lives. Tragically, we fail to see that our trajectory was set by God long before we had a say in the matter: where you happen to be in the journey is of no consequence, only what you do there.

Today is the day that the Lord has made. What are you going to make of it?

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