For most of my life, during most of my waking hours, my time has been consumed by the activities and needs of the moment: those things that were determined for me merely by my stage of life.
When I was a student, I went to school and participated in school-related activities. As a new wife, I worked both in and outside the home and invested myself in helping to build a solid foundation in our marriage. Then came parenthood and years of caring for little ones, balancing the various roles and challenges that life as a family necessitated. At any given moment I was teacher, inventor, negotiator, nurse, taxi driver, maid, cook, storyteller, activity director, dictionary, translator (ever try to hold a conversation with a 2-year-old?), detective, fashion coordinator, cheerleader, and administrator. Add to that the hours spent in careful training and nurturing young hearts in the ways of the Lord.
But now I find myself living in a peculiar and unfamiliar set of circumstances. My children are grown, and most of them are married or out on their own. I no longer spend endless hours driving kids to activities and appointments. When I cook, it’s usually for just two of us. I return home from work each day to find my home in pretty much the same state that I left it. It’s quiet and life is, for the most part, predictable. I am an almost empty-nester and this is the new normal.
I realize that with my “new normal” has come a new set of temptations. With few pressing needs, I can find it easy to spend too many evenings in front of the TV or spend Saturdays on my computer. As things like serving in children’s ministry or involvement in youth activities fade into the past, hours of my week have become unscheduled and available. It would be so easy to settle in and coast. In view of these changes, I’ve been digging into scripture to see what the Lord says about this season of my life and have been challenged in many ways (and not just from scriptures about my season of life).
I am reminded from Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Those good works don’t cease when my children are grown. The Lord has prepared good works for every season of my life! And he calls me to be self-controlled and zealous for good works as one who belongs to Christ (Titus 2:14).
I want to finish well. I want to run in such a way as to seek an imperishable prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). Paul pressed on in the midst of a fallen world with his life purposed toward a heavenly goal (Philippians 3:13–14).
I realize that one of the greatest blessings of this stage of my life is the gift of time, and I want to invest it well. I am trying to begin each day by asking the Lord, “What good have you prepared for me to do today?” With more available time, I can invest in younger women in greater ways. I am freer to serve the needs of others. There are ministries at church in desperate need of willing workers. My grown children need help with their own young families.
I don’t want this season to be marked by being caught up in the momentary pleasures of this world, but rather by continued joyful service to the One who made me for good works!