By Debbie Herbeck
We think we can have it all. And we want it now. Thanks to high speed Internet, smart phones, social media, seemingly limitless credit and the ethos of the American Dream, we can acquire, possess, and accumulate stuff, status, popularity, and power with lightening speed.
Who doesn’t want to be upwardly mobile? The ladder to “success” that many of us long to climb is just waiting for us to ascend. As we move from college loans to career goals, the must have material possessions, a spouse, kids, a mortgage, promotions, dream vacations, club memberships, and all that our unforeseen future may hold, we can have a “then what?” mentality that leaves us empty, bored and unfulfilled.
Recently, an articulate young man and serious disciple of Jesus shared this insight about his path to deeper conversion:
I thought about the life ahead of me—grad school…THEN WHAT? A good job…THEN WHAT? Marrying a nice girl…THEN WHAT? A nice house…THEN WHAT? Raising a family…THEN WHAT? Nice vacations, golf on the weekends… THEN WHAT? Retirement… THEN WHAT?? Ultimately it all ends with death. Don’t get me wrong, all of these are good things, but when I reach the end of my life, I want there to be more. I want eternity.
If we go through our lives moving from one accomplishment, acquisition and milestone to the next, without stopping to acknowledge our true purpose and destiny, then we will arrive at that last moment of our lives having acquired many [even good] things that are now worn out and useless (including our own bodies). None of it however, can open the door to the final “THEN WHAT?”—an eternal, glorious, unfading treasure—life with God who is the fulfillment of all our desires.
Yes, it’s good to succeed, to accomplish our goals, to actualize our dreams, but as disciples let’s be motivated by an understanding of our true destiny. Let’s pause on each rung of that ladder, thanking God for the gift of His life, which fills everything we do with deeper meaning and purpose. Let’s ask Him to remind us that this is not all there is, that we are moving upward toward an eternal weight of glory, prepared in heaven just for us.
St. Paul, one of the greatest disciples who ever lived, understood the relative value of things in this life, compared to the inestimable worth of the next:
If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more… But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him… (Phil. 3:4-8)
As disciples let’s be upwardly mobile, heaven-directed in all that we do and remember that it profits us nothing to gain the whole world and lose our souls (Mk 8:36).