Recently I turned 35, an age I had imagined in my 20s to be terribly dreading. It turned out quite the opposite. Not only did I have any fear, but also the day was full of grace and delight.
I went out for the whole day and went back for a homemade dinner by my beloved husband. He spoilt me.
I took a slow walk in the nearby park that morning. It was a beautiful autumn day. The leaves just started to turn yellow. Several ravens were flying around, searching for breakfast I thought. As I was treading on some fallen leaves in the quietness, I reflected on my 35 years life.
I remembered one night standing by the window of my dormitory as a freshman in university, tears were dripping down through my cheek. I was badly missing my dad, who had passed away a year ago by then. My little heart was yearning for comfort and love. I reached out to God in a simple prayer and was struck by an inexplicable comfort right there— the peace of a God whom I just started to get to know those days.
I remembered the morning I skipped the classes and stayed in my dorm alone, kneeling on the floor, confessing and repenting all the sins of mine that I could think of, and asking Jesus to forgive me and come into my heart to be my Lord and Saviour. After the humbling weeping came the unexpected joy. The next morning I woke up, all the heaviness I had felt the day before, was gone completely. I was surprised by a joy of sensing a brand new life and hope ahead.
I remembered the milestones in my young adult life: the graduation day, the first time going abroad, the first time flying a plane … and the tough and lonely times with nobody to hold: the first time sleeping at the airport waiting for the next flight, breaking up with boyfriend, being rejected by someone I liked, financial crisis, career crisis, adjusting to a new environment with a new language in a new country … my parents might not have been there for me, but God was there. The love, comfort, and strength I felt in those moments were more real than the challenge or pain I was bearing.
It was in those moments of reaching out to God that my faith and confidence in Him kept growing. And the story about where I ended up living now convinced me that my life is truly His Story.
One evening in Bali, Indonesia, where I was attending a training course for a month, I sit at the beach alone (which was probably a little unsafe for a young girl), feeling torn in my heart due to some emotional struggles that any young person could experience. I was yearning for companionship, love, and a great marriage. I prayed to God that night, once again, for my future husband. At the end of the prayer, I added: “Let us have a honeymoon in Switzerland”…
Why Switzerland? I wasn’t sure. Probably because it’s the fanciest country I could think of at the moment, and I trusted God for the best…
The least did I know, three years later, I would have the opportunity to go to Switzerland for schooling, and met a man at a Chinese church in Geneva who became my husband three years later! And yes, we spent some days of our honeymoon in this beautiful country, some chalet at the foot of the Alps by the lake, just as what I randomly prayed to God six years ago on the beach in Bali.
I’m forever thankful for this beautiful story God brought to my life. I can’t think of a better timing in my life or a better place in the world to meet my husband whom I’d been praying and waiting for years. Not only that I got to have the honeymoon in this stunning country, but also we got to actually live here as a family of three!
So on my birthday morning, I was pondering all these and talking to God about it while wandering under the trees in the park. I knew I’m living my best life. I gave Him thanks.
The past years has been good. I did my best to follow God’s lead and grow. I may not be where I want to be in maturity and character yet, but by His grace, I’m not where I used to be. The question is what’s now? What does my best life look like tomorrow? What are some new stories God’s going to write in my life after 35? How can I write my story with Him? And how can my story bring God glory?
Dear readers, these are the questions perhaps we could all use to reflect on our lives, no matter you are 35, 25 or 45. You may have lived well in your past years, or you may have many regrets. But the past is past. We can always look forward into the future. What kind of memories will you and I make for our 40th, 50th, 65th birthday?
I brought these questions to the Lord that day, desiring to hear some answers. I found myself sitting on a bench on a little hill, in front of a beautiful lawn. I could overlook the Lake Geneva across the road, and the hazy silhouette of the Alps on the other side of the lake. A breeze touched my face as I was positioning my heart to listen, and there was the familiar still small voice: “It’s not too late… to pursue your dreams and what you love.”
I’ve kept this in heart for some days now. I knew I loved writing and drawing from a young age. But somewhere along the way, I lost the frequent practicing of them, especially drawing. I used to think it’s too late to pick them up. But now I felt I’ve been given an invitation to explore the possibilities and pursue something I love. I’d love to take that!
At the age of 35, I want to keep being part of God’s Story for as long as I live on earth. Living by faith sometimes means taking risks. We are called to dream big and live big. For me, in the next season, it includes practicing and exploring the possibilities of writing and drawing.
What about you? What do you love doing but too busy to pick up? Is there anything that you’d love to pursue yet haven’t? Let me assure you, it’s not too late. Keep seeking and following the still small voice along the way. Who knows if one day, the passions and gifts which you and I invested time and efforts to develop and improve would be a timely blessing to somebody out there? 🙂