Will I Have a Mid-Life Crisis?
That’s a question I have honestly asked myself before, not because I feel one coming on, but because you always hear about it, especially with men. My wife and I have had sincere discussions on what happens to some men as they reach their mid-life years. Will it happen to me?
I am 37 years old. While I have much to be thankful for when it comes to relative youth, health, and energy, I am also being slowly introduced to the regular disappointments of an aging body, and the realization that, because I am finite, I will simply never accomplish some of the things I want to accomplish. That’s what they say causes a mid-life crisis. You wake up one day and say to yourself, “Is this all there is to life? Is this really all I will have to show for myself when I'm gone?" This can either lead to nagging depression or drastic, uncharacteristic activities in hopes of finding satisfaction or significance before it's too late.
One of the fundamental fears and disappointments of getting older is that we begin to experience firsthand how finite we are. Our bodies can only do so much. Our energy begins to wane. There are only so many hours in the day, and so many days in a year, and so many years left. Some of our dreams will never be realized. We are slowly forced to let them go. We cannot do all that we hope to do. Let the grieving process begin.
But there is a wonderful hope, in the midst of our finitude and our limitations, that can only be found in Christ. And that hope is eternal life. Eternity with God and with Jesus holds the promise that one day we will be able to do all of the things we could never do during this vapor of a life (Psalm 39:4-6; Psalm 90:10-12). One day God will satisfy every unsatisfied longing. This particular aspect of eternal life is presented to us in two biblical doctrines.
A Physical Existence
First, Scripture teaches us that eternal life will be a physical experience. Heaven will not be some ethereal cloud-space where bodiless souls float around, doing nothing but singing worship songs all day long. No, the Bible tells us that just as “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” so in the end he will make a “new heaven and a new earth.” (Revelation 21:1; 2 Peter 3:13; Isaiah 65:17) That’s right… a new earth. The word for heaven or heavens in these passages does not refer to the dwelling place of God, but simply to the skies above us. In the beginning, God created the heavens above us and the earth below. In the end, he will recreate or renew them and give them to us as our new home. (See Romans 8:21; 2 Peter 3:10-13; Hebrews 12:27)
Not only that, but we will have resurrected, gloried bodies for all eternity. We will touch, smell, taste, run, walk, jump, embrace, and work. Jesus’s resurrection body was like a preview of coming attractions for the rest of us (Phil. 3:21). It was touchable (John 20:26-28) and recognizable (Luke 24:31), and yet glorified with power our current bodies do not have (like appearing out of thin-air—John 20:19-26). When we receive our own glorified body, the disappointments of this current one will be no more. Those who were unable to walk in this life will run with the joy of children. Those who were unable to see in this life will sit for hours in front of a landscape with colors none of us have yet seen. And those of us who were never able to touch the rim will finally get to dunk a basketball (that one's me).
An Eternal Existence
Second, Scripture teaches us that it will be an eternal existence. I would argue that this doctrine, more than any other, is most helpful in fighting off the disappointments that can often produce a mid-life crisis. It is hard to fathom, but life on the new earth will never end. You might try to imagine the longest length of time your brain can comprehend, but even that is no help in grasping a truly infinite existence. All possible comparisons and multiplication facts are useless. It will never end.
This is wonderful news for those of us who are starting to come to terms with dreams that will never be realized. We will have stuff to do for all eternity, and we'll have so much time to do it, there is literally no limit to the amount of skills you can master, or experiences you can take part in, or people you can meet and get to know. Just as God directed Adam in the garden before the fall, we will be busy with soul-satisfying, meaningful work and play for all eternity.
I may never learn to play the piano in this life, but you can bet I’m going to be a piano player at some point in eternity. Perhaps Ray Charles could teach me if he's there. Oh, his waiting list is twenty years long? That's nothing! No problem.
I may never visit China in this life, but I'll have plenty of time in the new earth. Maybe I will even live there for a thousand years or so. I might build my own house after a few years learning carpentry and woodworking. I could walk the entire Chinese countryside. The weather will be perfect and I’ll have the time!
You see, the promise of eternal life means it's okay if I leave all kinds of dreams and aspirations on the table during this life. Unfulfilled desires, unrealized plans, and even regrets can all be taken in stride if we know we will literally have an endless amount of time to do what we always wanted to do.
So, do I think I’m going to have a mid-life crisis? Probably not. I guess I will just have to find some other excuse to buy that Gibson Custom Shop ES-335.