I turn eighteen next month. I feel roughly the same sense of anticipation that I felt when I was turning sixteen and seventeen. It’s not because I think anything exciting is going to happen, but because I feel like I’m marking a milestone like I do every year. One more year gone, one step forward. This past year has been more interesting that all the others because I’ve learned so much more. I’ve started reading the Bible through and thinking about theological and economic issues. I feel like I know so much more.
But this anniversary is making out to be just like the last one. It was preceded by a time of reading, thinking, searching and worrying and then, when the day finally came, it was peaceful. I felt like I had accomplished a lot during the summer, become more certain of important things and I could breathe again. I don’t feel nearly so suffocated as I did then, nor do I have such a weight on my chest (praise God) but my thoughts are foggy again. I have to think about lots of things I don’t think I should have to think about. I can’t help thinking that the questions were a lot simpler then. “How do I know God exists?” “If God does not exist, what does my life matter?” “If God does not exist, why should I obey my parents and not steal dresses from shopping malls?” Now it’s “What goes on in hell?” “What secular reasons can be given for opposing gay marriage?” “Am I going about all this correctly? What if I’m thinking badly?” “How much can I trust my reason?” . The new questions are a lot less foundational than the old ones, but I have so little data on them that I don’t know what to think.
So, I’m confused again. And when my confusion stems from a lack of knowledge, I order more books and reflect on what I already know. I am a sinner, deserving of God’s wrath and in need of his grace. God is good and kind, and oh so gracious and knowing that my only hope is in him, he has saved me. This is my hope in life and in death and a foundation on which I can build other things. I’m embarrassed to say I can say very little else with such certainty. I sure hope this sorts itself out by my birthday.
I stand upon – stand upon the Blessed Holy Rock of Ages
And safe within – safe within his shelter I will be
Winds may blow – winds may blow and the angry storm all around me rages
Upon this rock – the blessed Rock of Ages I shall stand