I’ll happily admit it – I am the epitome of the hipster, basic white girl on Instagram. I love running the I Am Project Instagram, and I also work a couple of freelance jobs as a social media assistant – I am known (read: mocked) among my friends as the Instagram queen. But with that social media hipsterness, comes this image of what we think our lives should look like: influenced strongly by the teen movies where they go on road trips and discover themselves – the social media world says that my life should look like an adventure – that we should be climbing mountains and driving fast with the roof down and swimming in lakes, drinking lots of Starbucks along the way.
I love The Perks of Being a Wallflower as much as the next person, and if you had asked me a couple of years ago, this would have been the ideal life. I have been, from a pretty young age, fiercely independent – I grew up loving this idea of being the girl who could hop around the country, not really committing to anyone or anything – getting by and being free.
And then something radical happened: God put me in a family. He gave me a home that was mine to belong in, and people to love, and things to do with my life. He put me in a place that I would grow to love, with a purpose that meant that things would be different if I wasn’t here. He showed me just how much I was loved, and needed, and the impact that my presence makes to the people that He has given me to care for.
In the Bible there’s a man called Enoch, who comes up in the family tree from Adam to Noah: it’s this long list of names that details how long each person lived for, who their first kid was and how old they were when they died – it gets a bit repetitive and it’s a passage that we would tend to just skip over. Each name goes through the exact same pattern of information, except for Enoch. This is what it says about Enoch:
“Enoch walked faithfully with God; and then he was no more, because God took him away” Genesis 5:24 NIV
Death is one of those things that we can find really difficult to talk about, and even harder to explain: when I read this, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up with the words God took him away, and I realized that this was something that I needed to get straight in my head. I had an aversion to the idea that God takes people away and causes them to die – and yet that is what it says here.
Firstly, I don’t think we can confuse this with the idea that God takes people away because He misses them so much and He needs them up in heaven – an idea that is often shared around children passing away, but that might not quite be right. Enoch had a long life, and the verse said that he walked faithfully with God – God was so present in his life on earth. This is the most important thing: there wasn’t any need here to hear about what Enoch did, or who he influenced, or how he lived – the fact that he lived faithfully with God was enough.
And yet, he walked with God – it’s the familiar idea that life is a journey, progressing towards a goal: when we walk with God, the natural next step to that journey is to step into an eternity of hanging out with the Father, who we love. McLaren, a theologian, says it like this: “God, with whom he walked, put out his hand and took him himself. Of course. What other end could there be to a life that was all passed in communion with God except the crown of it all – the lifting of a man into closer communion with his Father and his Friend?”
That is – God, who was his best friend, was with him for the whole of his life – and then when the time came, he put out his hand and lifted him up into an eternity with His best friend.
To me, this is the dream – when it is my time for my life to end, I would be so happy for this to be my story: “she walked faithfully with God; and then she was no more, because God took her away”. I want to spend my life here walking closely with him, so that eternity is just stepping into an eternity with my best friend. And for me, I cannot hold this alongside the idea of being a wanderer, independent from God and from people. I do not want to be independent – I want to need people, to have my home, to walk right next to my God. I want to be present in the family that He has put me in.
I would take that over the road trips and the mountaintops and the Starbucks coffee, any day.