A little red convertible sports car keeps revving it’s engine in my old soul during my mid-life, bidding me onward to new highways and byways, to mountaintops, my hair blowin’ in the breeze kind of freedom that’s calling me to grow and stretch in new ways. To tell you the truth, I expected slower drives through small country towns, a few picnics butterfly watching in valleys filled with wildflowers, and settling into myself, the self I worked long and hard to nurture and grow for over a half a century.
Yet, I’m sensing when we commit to a life with God, we’re a work in progress regardless of age, wisdom, or even our ignorance, we’re continually called to rise, grow, stretch and shine, becoming all we can be in God’s eyes.
As many of you know, I’m preparing for the empty nest just ahead after 18 years of motherhood. This is like downshifting my old four door Mercedes as it descends downhill, it’s worn driver’s seat now ripping at the seams, as I breathe in a sigh of relief after a long journey. I marvel at the fact that for years I lived a good portion of life these past years in this little car that could, squeezing in a pack of teens like sardines for endless drives to school, theater rehearsals, drives home from late night parties, and to and from never ending social events. I still hear their musical tributes and silliness flying out the window into the California wind, joy racing in my heart, hormones soaring, both theirs and mine, in our little rolling community on wheels.
Since there’s none of that now, I find myself pulling over to lookout points, glimpsing new vistas ahead, avoiding rethinking my life, the needed re-inventing of myself, re-creating my work, and considering how I’ll spend spans of my time soon opening wide.
The red convertible is of course a metaphor of Jesus calling me to new life of hope and freedom, a freedom that requires me to stretch in becoming more Christ-like, to create new ventures, to grow and evolve into the full woman God meant for me to be.
Yet, don’t we all resist changing and growing? Don’t we, when we feel that nudge to grow, to become leaders in our communities, to begin a calling, to end self-loathing and become empowered, don’t we against our better judgement, linger at lookout points, unpack picnics, and then head back home to our safety nests to watch a little TV, allowing a kind of numbness to rule our lives?
How familiar is Moses’ response after God calls him to lead the Jews from oppression by the Egyptians?
“I am nobody. How can I go to the king and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
Yet, so many of us nobodies, in God’s eyes, are somebodies.
And we’re called to rise.
And we’re called to stretch and grow.
Did you know rise is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible?
David’s life catapults forward. From shepherd to King, he perseveres fleeing King Saul’s relentless, bitter, jealousy and death threats.
Esther, too, called from a harem to become Queen risked her life to save the Jewish people in exile in Persia from extermination.
And Sarah, how patient she must have been thousands of moments of barrenness, even in her grumbling and jealousies, awaiting motherhood, then giving birth as an old lady.
Job, oh, what suffering and wrestling with God as he faced wretched loss, despair, bitterness, and poverty of spirit — finally finding humility, restoration and a new, abundant life.
Sometimes to stretch, change and grow is just hard.
Other times, it’s scary, yet we’re called to take first steps – or leaps.
Jesus says to the crippled man, Arise, take up your mat, and walk. – John 5:8
Or, Jesus calls Peter, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat. He walked on the water and went toward Jesus. -Matthew 14:29
Granted, storms swirl in the heart of our risk-taking, and we’ll be afraid. But like Peter, we must take the steps needed anyway, knowing Jesus is always waiting with open arms.
When Peter faced the fierce wind and began to sink and he was afraid and began to go down in the water, he called out, `Lord, save me!’
Right away Jesus put out his hand and took hold of him. – Matthew 14:30
Sometimes stretching means we need to give up everything we have to serve others. This is a must in order to know the fullness of God’s desire for our lives. Sometimes it means uprooting to move to a new location, leaving a secure job to start a ministry, or it means loosening our hold on our bank accounts to give to those in need. Jesus tells the rich ruler:
You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Luke 18:22
I ponder the lives of these biblical heroes and heroines before me, wondering — what is God asking of me now in this transitional stage of my life? What does red convertible road freedom really mean in the sense of the true freedom Christ’s offers?
As I rethink my career post-motherhood, revisiting old, dusty cob web filled rooms of my former work-life, dusting off dormant skills, shining them up, I pray for God to help guide me in entering uncharted territory for new, purposeful work ahead, to replace my worn out spark plugs with strength and courage to do the work before me with gusto.
I seek the essence in everything before me of Moses’ obedience, the courage and faithfulness of King David and Queen Esther, the patience of Sarah, the emotional wherewithal of Job, the fearlessness in Peter’s first step off the boat, the crippled man’s faith, and the wisdom to give up what I need to follow Christ’s call.
Rising and stretching is like stepping into a red convertible for a journey through new byways and highways, and maybe even a long, winding drive to mountaintops. It’s being obedient to following God’s call to step out into the unknown, to grow and change, to listen for the still small voice that says, “Go this way”. Sun shining bright, wind whipping through our hair, we bring along our hat, shades and sunscreen, and God’s word inscribed on our hearts. It’s a new journey ahead.
He makes my feet like deer’s feet, and sets me on my high places. –-Psalm 18:33
Do you sense a rising and stretching for Christ in your own life? Whose story in scripture can help you navigate a new phase in your life?
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