Today I’m 33. Well, today and the next 364 days. I’m pretty sure the 10-year old me would call me old, but he was a punk so I don’t really care much about what he thinks. I don’t feel old at all. It’s not like I’m 35 or something!
A British website did a survey a few months ago, asking a ton of people over forty at what age they felt the happiest. You would think that the majority would say they were happiest in their twenties or something. But 70% said 33. How random is that? It kind of puts a lot of pressure on me for this year. What am I going to do with the “happiest” year of my life? If this is the peak and everything else is downhill, where will I peak at?
Reading that reminded me of my friend Bryan. He turned 33 a couple years ago and someone told him it was his “Jesus year” so he could go wild and do whatever he wanted. We thought that sounded a little strange, since it didn’t seem to be what Jesus did with His “Jesus year.” In fact, it kind of seems like the opposite of what you should do with your “Jesus year.” Maybe your “Jesus year” should be the year of ultimate self-sacrifice. The year that you deny yourself things that you want and do the hard things you don’t want to do. Or maybe not…
Desire is a tricky thing. There are multiple levels to our desires and they’re often at odds with each other. There are surface desires – those things that we want right now that would make this moment in time more enjoyable. They’re typically short-lived and often promise more than they can actually deliver. Then there are deep desires – those things we desperately long for in the deepest parts of our soul. These usually take a lot of time and effort to cultivate. Things like the desire to know and be known, to love and be loved. The desire to raise our kids well and to have a great marriage. The desire to know God and make Him known. These are all deep desires. And to truly pursue these deep desires we’ll inevitably have to deny ourselves a lot of surface desires. We do this kind of thing all the time, or at least we know we should do kind of thing all the time. For example, you may have a strong desire to eat a Chick-Fil-A cookie everyday, because they’re so freakin’ delicious, but if you have a deeper desire to be healthy so you can live a longer and more fulfilling life, then you’ll probably want to check those daily cookie cravings.
The truth is you’ll have to kill a million lesser joys in pursuit of the truly great joys in life.
So, maybe I should “do whatever I want” and pursue joy with reckless abandon during my “Jesus year.” As long as I’m not selling myself short by settling for the thousands of little, short-term, pseudo-joys that will ultimately cost me the things that I want the most.
Actually that sounds a lot like what Jesus did…
“Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…” (Hebrews 12:2)