A pearly-white picket fence borders a two–story house, offering the impression of a safe embrace. The fence stands waist high—not actually providing protection or keeping intruders out, but there’s no real threat in this neighborhood anyway. Or this city. Maybe even in this state. Really, it stands to keep the squabbling puppies from running wildly out into the vast unknown. And rightfully so! They must be raised to be docile, trained canines that know how to walk alongside their owner without a leash, first. A smooth, stone walkway stretches out from the porch steps, connecting perpendicularly to the edge of a sidewalk that barely kisses the edge of the very green, neatly trimmed lawn. On the front porch is a nice swinging bench with floral cushions that never lose their fluffiness. The sun is high, the clouds are speckled, and the grass sways to the rhythm of the breeze…
“Alright, let’s go around and do some superlatives now!”
“Sure, who should we start with?”
Fits of giggles erupted while people voted going through one category after another…
“Okay, most likely to live the American dream?”
“You!” someone calls out from across the circle, pointing straight at me.
I glanced around at everyone bundled up in layers of blankets and hoodies. They looked at each other, nodding in agreement, “Yeah!”
A group of eighteen-some-odd people ending our one-day retreat on the shore of an unknown beach. It was chilly even though we had a campfire burning, pieces of ash flickering up into the night.
“I totally see it!”
“The white picket-fence, the well-behaved kids?”
“Don’t forget the hardworking husband!”
But all the voices slowly drowned out around me as I sat there paralyzed, frozen by three realizations: a) People saw my life as one that pursued this ‘dream’ that symbolized comfort, security, and personal well-being; b) This was the ultimate picture of what a ‘good life’ looked like in the eyes of the world; c) I did not want this to be the summation of the life I live…
– – –
Two years later, I still find myself unsettled at the remembrance of both this moment and this image. Often I wonder what people see when they look at me now—my ambitions, character, and interests. Am I living by giving myself over to death daily for Jesus’s sake, that His life might be revealed in my mortal body1 and life here on earth? Is my life lived as one bought by the blood of my loving Savior? Or does my life merely point to myself, molded by the values of this world?
The world’s wisdom tells me this white picket fence is as good as it’s gonna get. It is the most pristine portrayal of a ‘good’ life in the world’s eyes where things go smoothly, come easily, stay controlled, and nothing falls out of place. The hardships: minimal to none.
But what a fickle way to define my life! Has Christ not made all things new?2 Have not my old ways, old understandings, and old pursuits all passed away with Him? Have I not found all reason and in every circumstance, to say ‘it is well with me’? In Jesus there is a truer, deeper good. One that does not only mean living a life well-off but instead prevails when there is inevitable loss, pain, and suffering in this life; one that is not defined by earthly gains or losses, richness or poorness; a good that I can declare about my life even when the roof caves in, the walls come crashing down, and the fence burns to ashes. Because of who He is and what He has done.
In Him is an eternal hope that cannot be shaken,
a perfect love that cannot be taken, and
an inexpressible joy that’s been awakened.
I long to lead a life that steadfastly trusts in Him,
living for more than what I can accomplish for myself,
believing in a purpose greater than obtaining comfort or security, and
pursuing a God that says that He is good,
that He satisfies, and
that He loves me.
With this Jesus, I face all storms, wildernesses, and deserts in this life. With this Jesus, I can say, “Yes,” in faith for the Lord to have His way and to have His glory through my life, in my life. Though I may not know what blessing or momentary affliction may follow that ‘yes’, if it is the Lord and He is there with me, there is no place I’d rather be. He is all things good and where He is, all goodness dwells.
Would I not lead a life the world sees as goodness of its own kind.
Would I live and die offering a life that makes known the one living, truly good God.
Jennifer Yim is a graduating senior who is constantly learning what it means to be loved by the Father and to love Him in return.
1. 2 Corinthians 4:11, 2. 2 Corinthians 5:17, 3. Hebrews 6:18-20, 4. Romans 8:38-39, 5. 1 Peter 1:8, 6. Psalm 106:1, 119:68, 86:5, 25:7, 100:5, 34:8, 1 Chronicles 16:34, 7. Psalm 107:9, 8. John 3:16
Photo Credit: Alyssa Walker