Today, we took our newborn daughter to a checkup at the doctors office. From the minute we arrived we received the adulation that only comes from having a newborn in your arms. "oohs" "awes" and "how cutes" met us at every turn from the parking garage, to the elevator, to the check-in desk. There is nothing quite like this experience of new life tearing down walls of diversity. Everyone can come together around a beautiful baby regardless of race, class, culture, or background. As if each interaction brought us and our new friends to a place where we stopped worrying about our fears, doubts, insecurities, and circumstances and were simply captivated by the hope that comes while looking upon a life yet lived.
Yet, nothing could have prepared us for our most cross-cultural interaction of all.
As we sat in the waiting room a beautiful old women and her mother asked us how old our daughter Evangeline was. We told her that she was 11 days old. She replied with admiration and said "my mom here, is 104 years old". Her mother spoke up with full faculties and said: "Your daughter is beautiful".
I began to think about if I've ever met a person over 100 years old. I couldn't recall having done so. In the same awe I feel while holding my daughter and thinking about her life ahead, I was overwhelmed in considering the value of the life that was behind for this women. I did the only thing I could think to do and asked her questions.
I found out she has lived in Seattle for a long time. She noted how much change has happened. I began to think about what holds our lives together from the beginning to the end. Then I remembered who gave all of us breath, and what the apostle Paul had to say about the timeless value of lives from their first to last breaths.
“...you, who were dead in your trespasses...God made alive together with him,
— Colossians 2:13
In a letter to the Church at Colossae (in modern day Turkey), the Apostle Paul writes to tell his friends that Jesus is the one who holds everything together. His superiority makes sense of our lives. That all things were created for him, and through him. That you and I matter because Jesus created us to live lives that radiate "Christ in us, the hope of glory".
I bet our 104 year old friend has questioned this at many points in her life. I think we all do. Our lives are filled with too many circumstances, hurts, pains, and ways of thinking otherwise. This can't be true. Jesus is the way, truth, and life. Really? He makes sense of our lives? Are you sure? Are we really alive in Christ?
Then, these words from the Apostle Paul hit me as I sat in the space between my newborn daughter and my centenarian friend:
"...you, who were dead in your trespasses...God made alive together with him," (Colossians 2:13)
Myself. Evangeline. This elder stateswomen and her daughter. You. All of us. Offered life right back in the one person we got it from. In Jesus. Though a long life captures us with every possibility for how to make sense of our lives, He is the only way we can. Though every philosophy, history, hope, and spirit may enrapture us; the only way to make sense of life is by being re-united with the life-giver.
But how? Simply receive Him and His love for you. Live your life with Him as your compass. Your center of gravity. Paul's letter makes it clear that this happens in a few beautiful ways. A couple involving our focus and our feet:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4)
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)
Your life matters. Jesus is calling you to himself. Let him make the most out of your precious gift of life. From day one to your last. From year 1 to year 104, and beyond.