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Posts Tagged ‘rewards’

If most of you out there are anything like me, then you’ve asked yourself what the purpose of your existence is.

Why are we here?

Am I here just to undergo suffering? Continually and without end? Because that’s what life often seems like, doesn’t it? Suffering interspersed with occasional oases of relief.  It just seems sometimes that life is misery upon misery.

You make plans. Plans come to naught.

You have desires. Desires are seldom fulfilled.

It can appear that life is nothing but a big rat race with no purpose.

But then a thought occurred to me:

What if this life is like an interview process for a job – your dream job. Let’s say it’s a job that your life depends on getting.

And during this interview process you have to display certain skills that are absolutely required for you to get that job (that LIFE).

I like to think of it like this: in elite military training, they might take a soldier, put him in a shallow trench, and then shoot live rounds over his head, blow up grenades all around him while having other soldiers shouting and screaming in an effort to model live battle conditions. Pandemonium.

And that soldier – his task during this test is to take apart and reassemble a rifle, let’s say. Something he needs to know how to do in case it jams.

It’s no stretch to say that his life in battle depends upon him successfully completing that task because, in a live battle, well, if your gun jams, then of course you’d better unjam it or your goose is cooked. You have to get that thing to fire again or else you’re gonna die. Your life depends on the completion of that task. In that moment, that task is the most important thing in your world.

So that’s what I’m talking about, only, in my case it’s not taking apart and reassembling a rifle.

My task seems to be learning to control my own mind, asserting dominance over my wayward thoughts and controlling them so that I’m the captain of this dilapidated and listing ship, NOT my monkey mind, so that I become the person I choose to be, that I intend to be. So that I don’t let my ego, my monkey mind, keep running me in circles and making a fool of me.

So instead of a soldier in a trench assembling a rifle, my purpose is to assert control over my own thoughts and attitudes. Not an easy thing, mind you. God has thrown us all into this world of chaos, hardship and distraction… everything that pulls you away from mindfulness, everything that distracts you from remembering your central task, even. He has thrown us into the boot camp of life.

What I need to do is to learn how to take every thought captive – 2 Corinthians 10:5. Remember, even thoughts can be sins, as Jesus himself taught.

If you’re married and you lust after another, Christ said that you have already committed adultery in your heart.

Or, if someone makes you angry and you have thoughts of murder, then you are counted as a murderer by God. It’s easy to see how we are all sinners – not one of us is innocent.

I’m not saying that my task here, the expectations upon me, are to stop sin completely – I don’t believe that’s humanly possible because we’re in a fallen state. But we do have to learn to complete our given tasks with a certain degree of competency, just like that soldier in the trench, or else we don’t survive. We don’t pass this test.

We are all that soldier in the trench.

soldierFor me, the job I’m trying to get? I want a place in God’s Kingdom.

I wanna enter into it. Simple as that.

If I enter it at the lowest level – so be it. That’s fine. I just wanna make the cut and get in.

If I end up being a janitor in heaven and my job is to clean the solid gold toilet bowls, then I’m a happy camper, because I’ve made it into the Kingdom. That’s enough for me. Besides, I’ve done that job here on earth, so how much more so would I be willing to humble myself and do it there?

The difference between entering the Kingdom at that lowest level and not making the cut at all is an immeasurable gulf. That’s the cause for feeling great relief upon making the cut, even at that lowest level (or perhaps, especially at the lowest level, due to how close one came to failure).

Sometimes this task that’s before us seems Herculean. Impossible. I often have doubts I can accomplish it at all.

There’s a mountain of failures behind me, and yet I pick up my staff and I try again.

And, inevitably, I fail again.

I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our most melancholy propensities; for is there anything more stupid than to be eager to go on carrying a burden which one would gladly throw down, to loathe one’s very being and yet to hold it fast, to fondle the snake that devours us until it has eaten our hearts away?  – Voltaire, Candide

My greatest challenges are the classic vices: anger, judgement, envy, hate… The negative emotions. They plague me like the trots on a Carnival cruise.

Fortunately pride is no longer among them – God stamped that out of me a long time ago, and I thank him for it.

Those habitual ruts, like the ones deer run along, they’ve become worn from too much repetition. Those ruts in my mind are so worn that, if it were a deer run and I was mountain biking over them, the depth of their cut wouldn’t allow the front tire of the bike to escape them. It is nearly impossible to strike out onto a NEW path.

But it’s gotta start somewhere.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, and at the beginning, that one step seems hopelessly insufficient, and yet, that’s where it begins. And if we don’t begin, we can never finish.

You begin a process that’s very long and strenuous, but it has to start somewhere. Better that we are born into complete forgetfulness and ignorance – we don’t realize yet that we are taking but the first insignificant steps on a long and horribly difficult journey. And so we all begin.

It seems there’s not enough time in a life to accomplish enough of our tasks to make the cut, to “land the job” so to speak. Yet God has put those tasks before us.

And we have to pick up that baton and join that race.

That’s where we find ourselves.

We wake up on that battlefield, in that damn trench, and we have a disassembled rifle in front of us with bullets whizzing by overhead, bombs exploding, and people shouting and screaming orders at us.

It’s quite a place to find yourself, this world. It really is.

But God expects a lot, you know? He gave a lot, and he expects a lot. He deserves to – he earned it.

Would you want something where no expectations were levied against the granting of whatever it was you desired?

Would you want a job that didn’t require anything of you? What kind of accomplishment is that? Why would you want to be part of an organization like that? Anyone could become part of that.

No – you want to be a part of something that expects the best, something with integrity, something that isn’t messing around.

God isn’t messing around either.

 

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