“I just thought you’d all be settled by now. I can’t wait until you’re all settled.”
That’s what my mom said to me casually in a conversation not too long ago. I don’t remember the entire context, but I do remember that part.
Settled. I knew exactly what she meant: Married. Motherhood. Homeowner. Full-time job.
None of those descriptions fit my life at the moment.
The Dream and the Nightmare
In all fairness, I thought I’d be “settled” by now too. I’m inching closer to the latter half of my mid-twenties. I feel pressure to have that all figured out by now. Aren’t these the things that I was supposed to work out in my early twenties so that I can start fully living as I transition into my late twenties and thirties?
Settled is the dream.
But there’s another side of me too. Like many of my millennial contemporaries, part of me cringes at the idea of being settled. What would my social life look like if I started a family? Surely those 10p soccer games would have to go. Nine-to-five jobs without the option of working remotely are much too constricting. Renting seems like the better option: buying a house would make it harder for me to move next year if I want.
Settled is the nightmare.
Life is lived in this tension. My single friends dream of getting married, starting families, and buying homes. My married friends with kids long to join my Thursday night indoor soccer league or tag along on summer road trips. After all, the grass is always greener on the other side. But how do we live in this tension in a God-glorifying and honoring way?
Soma has been walking through the book of Genesis and recently finished looking at the life of Abraham. I can honestly say that I have never been able to relate to an elderly man as much as I can relate to Abraham. Talk about living in tension. Abraham was settled: he was married and living with (or at least near) his father for the first 75 years of his life. But then God called Abraham to leave his home and family at the age of 75, saying that God would make him the father of a great nation. Abraham and his wife Sarah became childless nomads. They were settled in that they had each other and they knew exactly where God was leading them. But they unsettled because they had no children to show for it. So they waited. And waited. And waited some more. Finally, 25 years later they had a son, but not just any son. This was Isaac, the promised son through which Jesus would one day be born.
Interestingly enough, Abraham lived to be 175 years old, yet the Bible focuses on these 25 years of tension. We can learn a lot from how he navigated this season.
Believe God’s Promises
One of the biggest keys to success for Abraham was his faith in God’s promises. God promised to make him a great nation. He promised to give him and Sarah a son. Abraham believed. It was this faith that saved him (Genesis 15:6). I also believe that it was this faith that helped him survive the tension. It is a lot easier to live in the present mystery when we have faith in a certain future.
Do you trust God with your unsettled life? Often I feel the most anxiety when I focus on my desires instead of God’s promises. God did not promise that I would get married, but he did promise that when I placed my faith in Jesus I became part of the family of God and the bride of Christ. I can live secure knowing that I am not alone. God did not promise that I would own a home, but he did promise that one day I will live in my eternal home in heaven. Don’t let your earthly desires eclipse the greater heavenly promises from above.
Be Honest with Questions
Have you ever thought of how ridiculous the story of Abraham is? Abraham and Sarah have Isaac when they are 100 years old. I don’t know about you, but my goal is just to be alive at that age, not to give birth. Yes, Abraham had faith, but he naturally had some questions too. He brought those to God, bowing before him completely humbled and exposed.
“Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless?” (Genesis 15:2)
“Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of [the land]?” (Genesis 15:8)
“Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” (Genesis 17:17)
Yes, Abraham believed. But he was also human, so he experienced a lot of doubt. The doubt was a natural part of his humanity. And sometimes this doubt led to sinful decisions, like when he tried to take control and conceived a son through Hagar rather than waiting for God to provide a son through Sarah. However, God is sovereign in spite of our doubt and sin.
Abraham’s faith, on the other hand, was a choice. He had to choose to surrender his doubts to God and to believe in God’s promises. I feel this almost daily. I need to choose to believe that God is providing for me, even if I do not have a house, husband, or full-time job to prove it. I need to choose to believe that God is working things for my good, even when it feels like things are falling apart.
Whether settled is your dream or settled is your nightmare, are you choosing faith like Abraham? Are you choosing to see God’s promises over your desires? God wants you to live fully awake and alert, trusting him in the tension.