For young kids, everything is new. As I look at my own kids, I'm reminded of my amazing first-time discoveries they're still experiencing. I remember the time I first tasted chocolate, my first pet, and having my mind blown after playing my first video game.
Skip forward a few years to my years as a young adult, and life again was once again a series of new adventures. I moved out of home, got my first job, learnt to drive a car, travelled, married, and even had a couple of kids! Life was once more like a vibrant sky of sunrise colour.
The sun is a little higher in the sky now, and some of the luster of those early years is gone. I would hope I could get away with calling myself a 'young' adult for a couple more years, but the fact is life isn't so new anymore. It seems that I'm coming into a new stage; one that you might call settling down... yikes!
Is there any way to hold onto my adventurous heart as I age? Any possibility that I might continue to experience the excitement of new discoveries when less and less feels new?
A quote from French author, Marcel Proust, gives me hope:"The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes." If this is true, then there is still joy and colour to be found even in daily routines we've experienced over and over again. In the sameness of the day to day, a fresh perspective is the key to staying young.
Have you ever had your eyes suddenly opened to see what was always there, but you'd never observed? A bit like Mary not realising that the man she saw as a gardener was actually her Messiah. I think sometimes we need a wakeup call to understand the wonder in what is right in front of our eyes!
Do you ever notice people's fences? No? I never used to either until recently when I started to think about putting a fence up in my own yard. Now I can't not see them—they're everywhere I look! (I never knew there were so many types of fences!).
If you're like me, and you've been on this journey of faith for a while now, you have more than likely experienced a plateau of sorts. The zeal of your early days has been replaced with a certain 'been there, done that mentality'. We might become comfortable with how far we've come and begin to 'settle down' in our faith with a cozy cup of tea.
How do we grow up in our faith without growing old and crusty?
It's at this point we must remind ourselves what we actually believe in.
Eyes to see what we have
Ours is the eternal quest! A lack of newness in our spiritual life doesn't have to be! The wonders of God are unending!
If we just push a bit further, we'll discover vast new vistas behind doors we never knew existed. We could spend every minute of everyday learning about our Creator, and still have no less to discover.
Marcel Proust's quote reveals that it is with new eyes that we will experience freshness in our walk with God. The big error would be to start looking for other new experiences to try and compensate for a faith that is growing tired.
Timothy Keller says, "Anything besides God that we get our meaning from or put our hopes in will, after an initial 'rush,' increasingly bore us. Only God and his love become more and more engaging, absorbing, and satisfying forever." We, as Christians, are on the right path. So we must stick with it. The answer to a stale faith is not a new faith, but a new outlook.
What does it mean then, to see prayer, the Bible, worship and faith through new eyes? How do we do it? The rest of Marcel Proust's quote gives us a clue: "...to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another."
The eyes of Christ
When we start seeing God, others and the world around us through the eyes of Jesus, our faith will become young again. We will see that our lives aren't meant to be lived anything like the way society around us suggests.
The consumerist culture we live in says "new, new, new"; "upgrade, change, buy!" We cannot look at our faith through those eyes. We must have new eyes - the eyes of Jesus - eyes that see beyond ourselves to the needs of others.
Our faith becomes dusty when it's put up on the shelf and isn't used. We notice fences only when we're looking to build one, and we'll only see exciting new truths in God's Word when we're looking to apply what it says. Look at the world you live in, with its needs and problems, and remember that your faith has something to offer.
The real voyage of discovery is not about looking for new experiences. Instead, it's about realising that there is no end to the possibilities of a simple life lived with God. I don't know about you, but I can't think of anything more adventurous!
The reality of God means we don't need to see what lies ahead. We just need to see Him.