Why Is This Old Lady in Our Class?
There was a quiet buzz of soft voices as young, eager students filed into the room. The professor struck up conversations with students who were enjoying tales of his summer adventures. By way of introduction, each of us was asked to share why we decided to take this particular course, The Philosophy of Religion. So began my first night class in well over 25 years.
Of the 15 students in the room, many said they had grown up in the church but had unanswered questions. This had led some of them to leave the church. They expressed a wide range of denominational experiences from Catholic to evangelical, with a strong contingent of Christian Reformed students as well. One thing each student seemed to share was curiosity and an earnest desire to know if faith in an infinite being was vital to our existence as humans in the 21st century. Or could we create our own moral code and identity as popularized by new age movements?
I wrestled with these same existential questions myself when I was in university and have revisited them from time to time. Over the years, however, I have gained a depth of assurance and peace regarding my relationship with the eternal God. As I have endeavoured to follow the Lord Jesus in good times and in bad, His faithfulness, love, and mercy towards me have laid these questions to rest.
It soon became apparent that my brain had been on vacation for the last 25 years as I struggled to understand the text we had been given. I found myself scribbling question marks in the margins of more paragraphs than I care to admit. I definitely felt my age among these young, bright, and engaged students. Each class became a meeting place of ideas, as the insightful professor skillfully created an environment that allowed for many questions and lively discussion. Some students, however, were still left searching for answers to their deepest questions.
This is when I began to wonder if my generation had failed these young people. Rather than giving them a faith that is objective, historical, living, and true; had we given them an internal, subjective,
self-centred faith that could not stand the test of time and life’s hardships?
In the name of relevance, had we unwittingly taught them that church is simply a place to learn to achieve a better and more successful life, instead of a holy life lived before a holy God? How would this kind of teaching acknowledge any need for the redemption offered by a crucified Christ? It’s no wonder these young people were struggling to figure out what faith in God really means.
I am sorrowful over what I perceive to be a failure on the part of my generation to be intentional about passing on a living faith that is true, transformational, and rooted in Jesus Christ. A faith that, at its core, provides such grace and mercy that it sets the soul free from all forms of condemnation
and brings meaning to life. I realized that to address the confusion and disillusionment so apparent in this generation, we must ask ourselves if we have been faithful to follow God’s call to be spiritual mentors to the next generation.
Maintaining my faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour, Lord, and Life has been challenged
and even threatened at times by various temptations vying for my heart and distracting my attention. Admittedly, the years can take their toll on our faith. Resentments, losses, grief, distractions, and sin can all accumulate to turn a once fervent faith into a wistful yearning for something deeper.
As I entered midlife I became increasingly aware of the importance of this stage of life as a time of recalibration and spiritual renewal. It became clear to me that now was the time to pursue a life of deeper meaning and purpose that would turn the second half of life into one of eternal value grounded in Kingdom pursuits.
It is my prayer that as I seek to recalibrate a deeper communion with my Lord, and receive His merciful forgiveness for the past, that my heart will continue to be renewed. I want to be able to show the next generation that living a life of faith and surrender to Jesus Christ is the only way to truly live. I want to echo the words of the Apostle Paul who wrote to the young Timothy in 1 Tim.1:16, 17 “But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”