So this is what its like to be Thirty-three:
“She scaled up the ladder heading to the precipice. She was now looking for the peak of it all. Tired from the journey, the trip had been rigorous, causing her to build up her strength while also taking it from her. Maybe this was how it was supposed to be. Maybe the climb was always an exchange of strength. Maybe this was the Great Exchange.
Reaching the very top of the mountain, in front of her was a long plank that she would come to know to be a diving board. Where was it leading her? She did not know, but somehow it was the next step. Suspiciously looking at the board, she walks stealthily towards its edge as if looking at prey. Was she ready for this? Was she ready to stand face to face with what was next? Was the next to be enemy or ally? Friend or Foe? She would soon discover the answer to all her questions.
Having chosen to remove her shoes a while back at the last landing, she could feel the cold of the wood under her feet. The cold went up through her and pierced her very being. It was a reminder of the past. She drunk in the cold like a tall drink. No sips allowed on this journey. She indulged on the cold and allowed herself to be wrapped in its familiarity. She was bold—as bold as the wind that whipped around that high place.
Coming to the edge of the board she took a breath in and with tears dropping, exhaled. She had made it to the top. She had made it to where she wanted to be. For a moment she felt like a newborn ready to emerge from the womb. She felt like this was her crowning moment. Tears of relief and joy fell like a river.
Gathering herself she looked into the vastness of the deep and she knew what was next. When you reach the top there is only one thing left to do: descend. She weighed the options of going back down the mountain the way she came. This seemed impossible. Suddenly she realized that she was not being asked to climb back down the mountain: she was being asked to do something more daring. She was being asked to do something that required less of her and more of the force that was driving her.
The night was dark and though she could see the peaks of the snow capped mountains in front of her, she couldn’t see much of anything else. Looking down she only saw a fog and beautiful abyss that screamed beauty and fear all at once.
What was she being asked to do? She was being asked to let go. To let go took on an entirely different meaning after this intimate climb on which she just embarked. So much of the past had been an uphill battle, but now, now the unseen Almighty was asking her to do something more glorious than she could ever imagine. He was asking her to just let go.
She could let go of things, people, places and paths, but this “Just let go” was to release herself from the weights of everything and fall into Him. It was another level of surrender.
You see, she had walked up the mountain in all its beauty and glory- her fingernails and toes bloody from the climb. Dirt cascaded her face as her curls paralleled them. Her vision darkened with every loss of sunlight and her clothes loosely hanging with a semblance of a garment that once fit. She knew the joy and pain of this mountain. She became one with this mountain. Though time is ambiguous on the mountain, it had taken her what felt like a decade to climb it.
Her climb had been worth it though. She needed to scale the mountain to understand Him fully. She needed the sweat, the pain, the blood and the cold nights to help her see Him better.
Looking into the abyss, she knew that a release into all that was before was a million times better than walking down the mountain again. Tired from the journey to just let go became more and more appealing. It became more radiant in that dark night.
Looking down at her feet now pressed against the edge of the board as if she was a diver, she knew she was staring at a coin. One side said “You will lose everything.” and the other side said “you will gain it all by letting go.” The coin only merged by the ridges of her faith. Feeling the movement of her heart she sat there for some time. In the distance she could see the sun beginning to paint the distant east. She knew it was now or never. Her surroundings covered in darkness, she stood up facing the path that she had just walk with her back to the great deep. This was the moment of decision. Looking as if she was walking away from the plank she paused. She stood, the same cold wrapping itself around her body. The coin held so tightly in her hand now began to gently slide from her grasps. She was loosening her grip. She knew that this was now or never. The sun was rising- the night of decision would soon be over. She knew this decision had to be made before she could see what lied beneath. She knew she had to walk without sight.
Standing on the plank and hearing the coin hit the wood she inhales and commits to the plunge. She does not turn to see the foggy abyss- she simply let’s go. Arms extended as if being posed on a crucifix, she allows the weight of her body to push her body backward and she exhales. Her pupils dilate as if perfect recall is happening of every euphoric moment in her life and with a smile she fades into the deep. She knew that her rigged faith that bridged that coin was correct. She both lost everything and gained it in a moment and it became life. The abyss though uncharted and unknown became exactly what she needed. It was time to let go and she did.”
Being in your thirties is so much different than being in your twenties. In your thirties you become more sure of who you are not. You are able to let go of what the world and others say should define you and you just become yourself more. You let go of the wrestling’s of the youth which include fighting and contending for things that have no lasting fruit. Your vision becomes more focused and clear. You begin to number your days. You realize that the moves you must now make must be calculated because they are more about those that come after you than yourself. You begin to think about those who will gather around your casket in the years to come. You think about ensuring you have a circle of friends that strengthen your life and build you in character. While fun and pleasure are important, they are not the primary thing. You know that at times God requires your discomfort for Himself and for the bigger picture. In your 20’s you allow yourself discomfort for Him as His grace abounds to allow you to walk through that discomfort. However, in your 30’s you walk through much discomfort with what seems like the grace to feel every bit of that discomfort. You are given the choice to say yes or no to that discomfort. Your 30’s requires a different yes that can’t be described. It can only be experienced.
Unlike many, when you are full of joy cascading the mountain of age is a beautiful thing. You are on an adventure and you actually wonder what your forties will be like: “What will I accomplish? Whose life will I change? Where will I go?” You have a keen sense that nothing is impossible because you saw this evident in your twenties and the thirties you are currently walking through.
Thirty-Three is like diving deeper into the abyss of who He is. It is glory. It is beauty. It is rest. I do believe life is like a fine wine and gets better with each year. My thirties were worth the pain and joy of my twenties and I suppose I will say the same about my forties. My forties will be worth the seeds sown in my thirties. I have learned that nothing in God is wasted and my thirties is showing that more and more.
We are each given an opportunity to let go and fall into the deep of God no matter what age. I ask and implore you that as you are given opportunity to walk in faith, lose and gain everything, feel both pain and joy that you will gladly walk the plank to the next level. You will find it to be the diving board into knowledge of God and satisfying of every desire. Thirty-three and beyond will be glorious.
Sixteen years in the faith and never regretting a moment.
The beauty of faith.
The beauty of the climb.
The beauty of the mountain of the Lord.
The beauty of God.