By Brian Jennings
My life is panning out differently than I expected. How should I react to the place I’m in right now?
Her shoulders slumped from the weight of her bags and grief. The moment she knocked on our door was the moment Raynisha Robinson (Ray Ray) morphed from friend and youth group kid to family member. She moved into our home and into our lives. Fifteen years, a college degree, and several jobs later, Ray Ray remains part of our family. A job moved her away, but phone calls, social media, and road trips keep us tight.
Ray Ray, as much as anyone I know, makes the most of her age and stage in life. God has yet to lead a godly husband her way (guys, she has high standards so get on your A-game before you call), she works fairly routine hours at a university, and she’s healthy. Her age and stage give her flexibility, while her maturity and wisdom allow opportunities.
My kids view Ray Ray like a big sister or aunt—and as the Queen of Fun. So when the Queen invited my two daughters to spend the weekend with her a few weeks ago, they exploded with joy. They weren’t alone. Ray Ray invited five other girls, all from her church. She’s played an important role in all of their lives and has close friendships with all of their parents. They played crazy games, ate yummy food, crafted, and talked about Jesus’ love for them.
This is just a snapshot of Raynisha’s life. She mentors young ladies from her college and church, she shares life with many friends, and she’s always willing to serve. Her devotion to Jesus inspires her to make the most of her age and stage.
Missions in the Nursing Home
When Shirley Foreman’s worsening illness required that she move into an assisted living center, she didn’t like the idea. Who would? Her family didn’t like it either, but it was their only option. I’d known Shirley for a long time, so I was delighted, but not surprised, at what happened next.
A week after her move, I noticed a shuttle pull into our parking lot at church before the worship service began. A ramp lowered, and Shirley came rolling out in her wheelchair. Then another person wheeled out. Then another. Shirley discovered that a shuttle would give rides to residents of her care center, so she invited a hallway of folks to join her at church. Two of them did. The following week more friends came, and we had to expand an area for wheelchair seating.
Shirley could’ve spent her remaining days on this planet moping around. Instead she realized her unique opportunity-bursting stage of life and made the most of it.
Jesus and the Crying Baby
Do you remember the time when a skeptic wanted to quiz Jesus, but Jesus had to stay home and take care of his newborn? Me neither.
Do you remember the time Jesus cancelled his preaching engagement on a mount because his wife had an emergency? Didn’t happen.
You may think it silly to consider, but Nicodemus’s life was changed because Jesus didn’t have to balance family responsibilities. I’d never suggest Jesus could not have managed family and ministry, but it sure would’ve changed his opportunities. Living a quiet carpenter’s life with a loving wife and joyful children must’ve sounded good to Jesus on those nights when he slept outside with twelve rugged guys. But he maximized his unique life.
Regardless of your age and stage, you have unique opportunities to serve the Lord. If you are a student, you’ll probably never have more potential life-changing friendships than you do right now. Make the most of it. If you are retired, you may have more time and wisdom now than you’ve ever had as an adult. Make the most of it. If you have a full house, you’ll never have more opportunity to shape the lives of children than you do now. Make the most of it.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). In the rough draft of our lives, God sketches out opportunities for us to honor him. Every day comes written with possibilities—eternally significant life-changers. Every season and stage of life grants new opportunities. Are you looking for them? Are you submitting your age and stage to God? Be encouraged. Your life holds great value, and only you can fulfill the specific role God has planned for you.
Brian and his wife, Beth, and their four children live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he preaches at Highland Park Christian Church and writes (brianjenningsblog.com).