For some reason I''ve been trying to come to grips with my own mortality - and reason for living - for the past two weeks. Some of that is probably just the fact that I'm 20 pounds heavier than I have ever been and I'm slower and nearer 30 years of age then I am to 20.
Plus, my new route to work takes me past a place where a mom was killed when her Blazer ran off the road last winter. Her kids survived - belted safely in their carseats. I saw the accident scene shortly after it happened, and it has somewhat stuck with me.
And so I Ponder...
So much of American living is wrapped up around finances: House, Car, Lights, Water...
If you decide you want to do anything more than that you find yourself paying for things like credit cards and student loans.
You're chained to your job, trapped by the ever-present debt collector and threat of living on the street.
And so we spend the greater part of our lives. Our values get screwed up. After all, we are already working overtime to pay for the electric bill. Why not work a little overtime to get a nicer car?
Our kids leave home and get stuck in their own rat race. Our cars rust. Worn-out, we die too.
"And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." -Luke 12
I've been making plans to leave the rat race. Ways to cut spending. To learn more valuable career skills. To create small, profitable streams of income which can be used to create other streams of income which then fund my bigger, loftier goals.
My priorities get screwed up.
"... he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." - Luke 12
I have big plans. Africa still burns in my heart and I want to learn Portuguese and go back. Maybe a little French and Spanish too, those people also need to know about Jesus. I keep envisioning a ton of schools. Schools that are run on pennies a day, by local Christian nationals that teach lessons of both temporal and eternal value.
I check the mail. I have a little over $20,000 in student debt. I pick up my little ball and chain and head back to my desk.
I've shared this before:
A rich man was in really good with the Lord. He had given away most of his wealth to the Lord's work, and had even donated his valuable time to the discomforts of the Lord's service.
On his deathbed, he worked out a deal with God: He could take a bag along with him of whatever he wished. It would go with him across that great divide and into glory.
He breathes his last breathe and opens his eyes. There he stands on the outskirts of heaven with his huge black trashbag. He lugs it to the pearly gates where the gatekeeper [whom everybody here on earth keeps calling Peter. In reality, it is a 7 foot tall angel that doesn't look anything like Peter] informs him he can't take the bag with him.
They argue for several minutes. The dear saint is adamant he gets to take his possessions with him and insists the angel must go speak to the Lord about it.
Finally, the angels acquiesces. "But first," says he, "I must see inside the bag."
Proudly, the rich man reveals a bag brimming with the purest gold.
The angel stares at it confused for a moment. Then asks, "Why do you want to bring a bag of pavement into heaven?"
The greatest wealth we can chase on earth, is nothing more than pavement.
And what would we think of that guy who decided to devote his entire life to collecting all of the pavement that he could?
We would lock him up to spend his days scrabbling at walls.
I took a walk tonight. I marveled at the stars, and challenged a skunk's territorial lines. I waved to neighbors passing by . I came home to my pretty, sleepy, wife.
This is life. This is the life I'm here to live. The shoes I'm in for right now.
I have responsibilities and I have dreams. And I must be willing to see the Lord's plan wrought in both areas of my life. Sure, if I hadn't taken on student debt, my load would be lighter. But we reap and we sow, and that principle is part of God's plan.
For me, the challenge is to not get weighed down by my responsibilities, but also not to get distracted by my dreams.
The challenge is to spend my life in constructive ways that further my family and my financial situation (using my "talents" wisely - for those of you who remember that parable) while not wasting my life "scrabbling for pavement" (ie. money, for those of you who missed the punchline up there)
I had a blast playing soccer yesterday. Wrecked my wrist pretty badly which means typing is a little challenging right now. Plus the pain -- and the meds to combat the pain -- are playing havoc in my head.
So, yes, I do think I'm a little melancholy right now (thanks, Doc, for such Trippin' drugs). But I also think those truths that I've been pondering for the past few weeks have ordered themselves rather nicely up there.
Hope it helps some of you who wonder what your living for.
And for those struggling with depression and discouragement - I had a fascinating battle with that last week. I want to share it with you.
But that will be another night. On another blog.
Good night, all.