By Sharon Lee Song
I’ve called the summer after my senior year in high school “the golden summer.” I didn’t have a care in the world. I think that may have been the only time in my life that I had ever felt so carefree. My destination for college was set, and all I had to do was show up for work, and hang out with my friends all summer. The memory of it shimmers in my mind, and the feelings of being so carefree tap into a deep sense of longing.
In recent years, I’ve attempted to resurrect the memory, sensations, and feelings from the golden summer because of this longing to be carefree. The reality is that my destination is set. I began to meditate on the golden summer as a spiritual practice, and have done so occasionally when I want to remember and have the truth deepen that my heavenly destination is set. It has helped put things in perspective when life’s cares have taken their twists and turns.
Life’s cares and the twists and turns they bring are overwhelming. As a practicing Christian, I have taken time to learn about what Scripture says about my eternal destination because I’ve noticed that Christians around me don’t seem to focus very much on heaven, and what this destination is going to be like. It seemed odd to me that Christianity hypes up salvation and heaven yet most Christians I knew were pretty clueless about the details of where we will be spending eternity. I read Heaven by Randy Alcorn from a friend’s recommendation and it blew my mind. Knowing more about the promises of the new heaven and the new earth continues to bring me tremendous hope and excitement about eternal life. I want this knowledge to continue to shape and inform how I live this life now.
Even with the golden summer, and armed with deeper knowledge and hope of my eternal destination, there has still been tension. Over the years, I have experienced a stripping and pruning of control, of the old way of thinking that I could plan my life, trying to make my life happen. This old way continues to die hard even now.
In 2009, my social work career had come to an abrupt end, while simultaneously coinciding with a painful deep healing season. The Lord said, “I’m teaching you to be more like Mary.” He was teaching me to sit at Jesus’ feet and choose the better part, that would never be taken away. He was teaching me that there is nothing better than to be with Him.
It is so hard to stay present. I find that I either focus on working through the past, or that I’m so future-oriented that I miss out on what is happening right now. In this call to be more like Mary and stay present with the Lord, I’ve had to learn to constantly surrender my plans to God, which is no small thing.
It is to the point that I realized that I didn’t have a 5-year vision or long term plan for my life. I’ve had to let go so much that I haven’t planned a future vision, and this left me feeling sad and discouraged. I realized that when I let go of my plans for a fulfilling vocational call, and marriage, I let go of hope. Hope that God has good things for me right now in this life.
The question, “What is my vision?” is not about planning out our entire lives. It is about cultivating a deep intimacy with the Creator that brings greater knowledge of who He is, who you are, and how you uniquely channel His love in this world. God is the vision. It’s amazing how easily we lose sight of this vision. Right now, I can articulate that my short-term vision is to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength, love my neighbor as myself, and seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness no matter where I am or what I am doing. I am still seeking clarity of the longer term God-centered vision for my life. No matter what I end up doing, I understand more now that it needs to be about cultivating deeper intimacy in my relationship with God. My hope is that whatever I end up doing as time goes by helps to facilitate this more.
Perhaps this part of my story resonates with you in some way. Maybe this is an invitation for you to reflect on these things that I’ve shared more. What might be your issues with letting go of control? What are the ways that you long to be carefree? Is there an image or a time that you remember that you meditate on or dwell in of being carefree? What is the short term and long term God-centered vision for your life?
My heart has been deeply moved by this well-known worship song, and it is my prayer for myself in this time of wanting a clearer God-centered vision for my life. If it is helpful for you, sing it or meditate on the words as a prayer for your heart as well.