Age has thrust upon me a ripening. I’ve reached a stage when stories begin with some variation of the word “ago,” as in some time ago, 30-years-ago, 20-years-ago or 10-years-ago. My odd, and maybe common, observation is all these seem like yesterday to me. The memories express a recency, a feel and touch missing during those years when ambition suppressed my senses. It’s as though those years did not exist until reflection allowed my senses to remember.
In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis asks the question, “If Christianity is true why are not all Christians obviously nicer than all non-Christians?” He points out, “Our careless lives set the outer world talking; and we give them grounds for talking in a way that throws doubt on the truth of Christianity itself.” A casual observer might agree.
Time and truth compete for our consciousness. Time, the bearer of all reality, the representation of our basal self, is the consolation of our unwillingness to dream toward unreality. And truth, the essence of all unreality, is the hope of how we dream life to be, a tinge of things to come. How then, are we, as Christians, to move out of time and live the truth of the Christian life? How are we to live in a way that affirms its assertion? It’s a hard question.
God meets us where we are, but he wishes us, wills us, not to stay there. Our redemption is the aftermath of this meeting, the collected circumstances from our suppressed yesterdays. Christianity is a traveling religion and redemption is the long journey to God’s revelation. Grace never stands still. Too often, the outer world misinterprets this. Too often, we oblige.
My “ago’s” remind me of two things. First, of who I was and who I am now. I remember my old self, a little too willing to put God off until tomorrow. And now, while my old self remains, it wanes, and in its place, God fills me with a desire for his will and purpose. I lean less toward the world and more toward Him.
Second, amid the confusion of all those suppressed yesterdays, in the blur of time, I see how God worked out my redemption through it all. My yesterdays reveal to me the lie of the illusion I lived. Living close to yesterday enlightens me today.
Though the world wishes it to be, the Christian’s standard is not perfection, but a moving toward God and his purpose, a moving toward nicer. If we are to stop the talking and affirm the truth of Christianity, our redemption cannot be silent. This means performing the small act of kindness, humbly ordering our life after the example of Christ and delivering the unmarketed good work. It also means our public profession in the high moments of faith.
All my yesterdays come back to me, and seeing God’s hand in them, I remain silent no more.
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).