It happens to me quite often these days, but still it sneaks up on me every time. I could be in my living room or in the middle of Target. There seems to be no way to stop it; it’s simply an unstoppable force of nature. And yet every time this happens, I am astounded. Shocked. Mortified.
It can make itself evident through something as simple as a phrase or a small gesture. But when it rears it’s ugly head, it is unmistakable:
I act just like my parents.
You’ve been here, right? That moment when you say something you never thought would come out of your mouth like “Because I’m your father and I said so!” Or you find yourself buying shoes for comfort instead of style. Or suddenly you’re watching – no, DVRing – something from the History Channel. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will.
You can explain it away as funny coincidence or a one time occurrence. But each time it happens you wake up to the reality:
I am slowly turning into my parents.
A similar thing happens to me with my age. In my mind I’m still 21. I see young guys sprinting around the basketball court and my brain still believes I can go out there and run up & down the court right along with them.
And then one day I hurt my back because I sneezed wrong. Or I can’t turn my neck to the right for 2 days because I slept in an awkward position. All of a sudden I wake up to the reality that my body is actually aging.
I’m getting old. When did this happen?!
It’s amazing how we can suddenly wake up to a reality that has been happening the entire time. It’s like the curtain is pulled back and we see what’s really going on. Sure, we probably knew it was happening; we just weren’t aware that it mattered so much.
We all face these abrupt, striking realizations from time to time. The question is not if they will happen, but how will we react when they break into our reality?
Will you fight against your upbringing or will you thank God that he placed influential parents in your life that have shaped the person you have become? Will you run the other way or continue to seek the wisdom your parents have gleaned from their successes and failures?
Will you rage against the aging process — continuing to act and dress and speak like someone much younger than you? Or will you accept that getting older can actually be a blessing and celebrate the joys of the life stage you are now in?
This is the essential call of Epiphany: “How will you respond?”
The Lord Jesus has come. His birth is a beautiful story that we celebrate throughout the Christmas season. But even more than his birth, it is the life of Jesus that pulls back the curtain to reveal a merciful, loving God who has been at work in the world since his voice spoke it into existence.
This holy, sometimes distant God we see throughout the history of the Old Testament comes down to us and has skin and makes friends and tells stories and is brought to tears when his buddy dies and touches the untouchable and speaks hope and joy and love into every situation.
Even thousands of years later, it can be disorienting. But this epiphany calls for us to be different. To be changed by the God revealed in both the infant child and the man on the cross. So how will we respond?
Not tomorrow or next week or in the coming year, but today. Will you ignore it or fight it or allow this God who came in the flesh to change the way you think and talk and act today?
Because when the curtain is pulled back, our world changes.