She is 26, and she aches for the children she cannot have.

She is 30, and fears that she’ll never get out of debt or own a house.

She is 37 and sobs that she’ll never be a great wife and mother.

She is 29 and wonders if she’ll ever find work that brings her joy.

She is 32 and cries out that her life is so fruitless she cannot possibly be a real Christian.

She is me.

In each moment — and a million other moments in between — I felt like I was falling behind an unspoken standard — not keeping up with invisible milestones of maturity in my mind.

I could not possibly be a good woman or wife or mother or Christian because I had not done a or b —  I did not feel like x or y.

The Colossians were having the same problem, it seems. False teachers had come into the church, rebuilding old altars and standards that Christ had demolished in His death. If you do this, or you don’t do that, you cannot be whole. 

In Colossians 2:16, Paul steps in to stop this thinking: let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.

The calendar God established for His people in the Old Testament set apart dozens of times to worship and confess, to give thanks and receive forgiveness. Festivals were yearly observances, the new moon happened each month, and the Sabbath each week.

These days were so important to obedience that when the Jews were in slavery, their captors would often forbid them from seeing the new moon, which was the way they marked each month and knew when to celebrate all of the other days and feasts that had been commanded.

They didn’t know how to be close to God without their calendar. Their holiness — their very identity — was marked by milestones in time.

We place our identity in different milestones now, but Paul says that old way is gone — Christ has “taken it away, nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:14).” Don’t let anyone pigeonhole you because you haven’t completed some so-called required step, he says. Let no one categorize you — judge you — disqualify you — define you — by your progress on the calendar.  You are defined by the work of Christ alone.

Your milestones have been replaced by the Cornerstone.

The tyranny of the calendar stopped the moment our eternal life started, because our Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  All moments, all months, all years are me, He says.

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, He says. (Mark 1:15)

There is no falling behind for one whose life is hidden in mine.