Sometimes you read something that just stops you in your tracks.
Those of us who do a routine self evaluation - you know who you are - often question your decisions, your opinions, your station in life and most of all your worth. Some people don't ponder anything large, ever. This is not to say they are bad people or anything like that. They just don't think like that. They go through life as is and don't waste the brain cycles on the esoteric. Some of us are just more introspective, questioning or fascinated by what we don't know. Some of us are called daydreamers or fools. (The ones who are sure of themselves and know it all will fancy themselves intellectuals.)
When we get on in years many men will question what they've accomplished and more profoundly what they've missed. This often leads to the proverbial mid-life crisis. For others a health scare will do the same thing. We start to ponder what and who we are and more poignantly what is really important. In some cases we consider what will we leave behind.
I can relate to the later. I think about the immediate well being of my wife and kids. Financially, materially they should be alright. Emotionally we've mended most of the hot messes created through the "growing up" years in our little family as the kids are now adults. So, I guess I worry a little about the wider perception of "me" when I pass from this plane of existence. I fancy myself a musician and an artist and I feverishly paint pictures and give them away while I busy myself in the recording studio writing and producing my own original music (that intend to give away) and try to work as hard as I can for my employer and all my good friends at work. I try, not always successful at being a good father, husband, brother and son.
I am so worried about what others will think/feel when they ponder my life I have forgotten the simple truth that I am nothing. Huh, you say:
excerpted from Love by Peter Kreeft
There is more: nothing else is really yours. Your health, your works, your intelligence, your possessions-these are not what they seem. They are all hostage to fortune, on loan, insubstantial. You discover that when you learn who God is. Face to face with God in prayer, not just a proper concept of God, you find that you are nothing. All the saints say this: you are nothing. The closer you get to God the more you see this, the more you shrink in size. If you scorn God, you think you're a big shot, a cannonball; if you know God, you know you're not even buckshot. Those who scorn God think they're number one. Those who have the popular idea of God think they're "good people". Those who have a merely mental orthodoxy know they're real but finite creatures, made in God's image but flawed by sin. Those who really begin to pray find that compared with God they are motes of dust in the sun. Finally, the saints say they are nothing. Or else (Saint Paul's words) "the chief of sinners". Sinners think they're saints and saints think they're sinners.
Who's right? How shall we evaluate this insight?
Mr. Kreeft talks of the misconceptions of the concept of "Love" with a special focus on agape love - God is Love. When I came to this passage I was struck by the simplicity and the finality of it.
Shortly after a health scare I walked around my house, surveying my belongings. I remember being out in the garage musing on what a disorganized mess it was and that I should toss out this and that - but wait - what if ever need one of those, you know in the future... I was struck by how unimportant these things were.
My possessions are just things. No one is going cherish them or even fight over them. Most of them are going to be discarded or trashed when I'm gone anyway. It is my relationships with family and friends that are important. Right? But when I look around I see that they are also tied to possessions and processes that are material in nature. Sure they like me, or even love me, but in the end their lives will go on - as they should - and I will be a memory. It's my relationship with God that matters - the one who truly loves me.
As Kreeft writes: One of the saints says that
Jesus would have done everything he did and suffered everything he suffered
even if you were the only person who had sinned, just for you. That's such an incredible thought! God's love
is always the concrete individual, not some abstraction called humanity. Love
of humanity is easy because humanity does not surprise you with inconvenient
demands. You never find humanity on your doorstep, stinking and begging. For Jesus it was personal, it is personal.
Until - I - we - you - fully understand this we will have an emptiness we can never fill.
Hat Tip to Bruce Carlton