The older I get, I have noticed my priorities shifting, as well as my questions. In my early stages, I focused more on narrowing down a career, finding a life-mate, settling into a lifestyle, raising a family, and becoming established. I collected many things over the years I believed had value. Things from all over the world, many of which now sit in boxes because nobody wants them and I have no place to put them. I could buy a bigger house so that I could display all those things, but how many rooms can I honestly live in? I have what I thought were valuable collections that my kids don’t want, and they’re too complex to sell, so they sit in boxes and I never look at them. What were those years all about?
How can I redeem them now that it seems I wasted a significant amount of time, energy, and cash pursuing things that no longer matter?
What prevented me from discovering that sooner?
I’ve noticed I don’t ask God the question “Why?” as often as I used to. Now it’s not so much a question as it is a statement. When everything is falling apart now, I usually pause, look towards where I have always imaged heaven to be and say, “Really?”
For most of us, maneuvering life isn’t easy. It’s hard to recognize blessings because many of our blessings are so common to us that we categorize them as normal. If I lived in the 1400’s, a flush toilet would have been an extravagance that hadn’t even been conceived. So maybe right now we struggle more when life goes sideways because we don’t fully recognize blessing. It’s hard to live a contented life, even if we come to a place where we say, “I have enough,” because in a few months or years, technology will bring something new that will make life easier ~ and we want it, or possibly, even come to need it if we are to live in a modern culture. 40 years ago, no one needed a cell phone ~ because there weren’t cell phones. There weren’t computers. There wasn’t online banking. If the internet goes down today, we start asking God the question, “How is this gonna work out for good?”
The point is, God has told us there is more.
But because we can’t see it with our eyes, we often substitute our pursuit of it, to chase after things we can see. We often end up chasing after things that distract, because we think they can offer us a sense of stability. That if we can just get this or that, it provides us with a layer of protection from the times when life seems to be falling apart.
Risk is always about releasing control. Risk says something else is of greater importance than the sacrifice you’re about to make. Why else would you willingly risk? So pause for a moment.
What are you willing to risk for?
Jesus understood the pressure. He understood there are things we don’t yet understand. And he didn’t want us to be unaware about the fact that there are things we don’t yet know, that if we did know, we would gladly risk to possess or to ensure those things succeeded.
He gave us many hints. ~ Here’s one:
"For whoever wants to save their life (or soul) will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?" Mark 8:35-37 (NIV)
There is something very profound behind that verse. It tells me that if I knew what it was, I would be more motivated to pursue it, than I am motivated right now to gain as much of this world as I can…
But let’s be honest, we can’t actually understand how losing our lives is a good thing.
Driving home from Chilliwack a couple of weeks ago, we ran into weekend traffic. Highway #1 was like driving in a parking lot. On the East side of the Vedder canal, there are feeder roads and roads that run parallel to Highway #1. But once you get to the Vedder, there’s only one bridge. We watched people racing down these feeder roads hoping to get ahead of the traffic, only to discover they couldn’t get across the Vedder. They were driving fast before they knew that. They were driving faster on the way back.
Life’s like that. We look for the shortcuts. We want to beat snarling gridlock. Just get ahead. So we veer off onto parallel roads only to discover we ended up at a place we didn’t want to be. It’s a dead-end. And we want to blame somebody. There’s a lot of life that is squandered. Some people scrimp and save, planning for retirement, and they get to retirement, and die. They never lived.
Others grasp at everything they can and spend their lives so focused on their own happiness, that they find it impossible to be satisfied. They spend thousands of dollars and they still need more. Life is more than this.
What is the point of gaining the whole world and missing out on something more important?
We should never wait until we have enough, before we begin to consider how we can use the things we have to make the lives of others better. How do I learn to lose my life?
David Collins is our interim lead pastor! He is the founder of Canadian Food for the Hungry International, the Global Hunger Foundation, and Paradigm Ministries. He's been a pastor, CEO, consultant and mentor. He and his wife have worked abroad to seek sustainable solutions in the midst of human cruelty and natural disasters. Author of two books, David continues to help people understand the power of ideas and how someone's motives correspond to Biblical integrity.