Our local flock of free-range turkeys have left the farm for their one-way trip to the dinner table.
It will come as a shock to them. Perhaps they thought they’d understood life well, with its regular rhythms of sleeping, running about, gobbling and eating.
Their mistake was that they didn’t know they were created by and for someone, namely the Christmas consumer. Perhaps, for the turkeys, this was a good thing.
It’s not a good thing for us, though, and I think this is where the purely material life falls over. All may seem fine. But then something big intrudes: love, death, the quest for meaning.
I’ve seen this too many times, thriving, self-sufficient people laid low. What worked for them everyday, the life they’d figured out, suddenly didn’t work any more. They’d missed the truth that they were made by and for someone. They didn’t include God or eternity in their calculations; they found they were were talking turkey all along.
I read a wonderful description of middle-age angst the other day, written by a 41-year-old. He called it:
‘a disconcerting mixture of nostalgia, regret, claustrophobia, emptiness and fear.’ 1.
The best thing was remembering feeling exactly that–perhaps when I was in my forties too– but not now feeling it anymore.
For me it was a years of ill-health and disappointment. My heart stopped in 2011, though happily they managed to re-start and fix it. Then in 2013 I spent a month in a coma and the following couple of years in and out of wheelchairs.
At work, from 2008 onwards I had ten years of painful transition from a publishing contract to a self-publishing life. 2 I sell fewer books but now I write and teach things that refresh and renew my spirit (occasionally, they help other people too).
In that desert time I think I found three things that really mattered: worship, relationships, and vocation. Add in a couple of others (recovered health, financial security, kids doing great) and I have been able to make the following Bible text my screensaver:
In my distress I cried out to the Lord
The Lord answered me and put me in a wide open place
Worship, relationship, vocation; not claustrophobia, a wide open space.