Yesterday I stood in a courtroom ready to defend my worthiness to be in the life of my granddaughter. It’s an odd thing having to think about why you should be allowed in someone’s life and how their well-being is at risk because you aren’t there. I certainly didn’t wish to toot my own horn, but I also didn’t want to leave anything out that might have been important. As I prepared my case I was thankful that over the course of my life, while I haven’t lived perfectly, I have tried to live as God has called me to live… to love each person I meet and to try to bring goodness into the world. In a world that says we should do whatever we want and simply think about our own happiness and desires, living for others and changing the world one encounter at a time is imperative. In the end, whether or not I will be granted visitation with my granddaughter, I know I will never regret the way I live my life.
Chapter 38: What If
I think that all of us have thought about the “what ifs” with God. When we struggle with faith we think, “What if he’s not even there? What if it is all just made up?” “What if he doesn’t really hear my prayers?” “What if nothing I do is good enough?” “What if it is real and I don’t believe?”
There is something I tell my children that I am sure many of you have heard as well when we think about God. What if you live your life believing that God exists, wanting to live your life out of love for him, work hard to be the best Christian you can be and then you die and there is no God? What will happen? The answer is nothing. You have lost nothing. There is no eternal place in heaven for you and you are simply dead and gone, but you had a great life and many people benefited from the way you lived out your love for the Christ that actually doesn’t exist. No harm done.
Now what if you live your life believing that God exists, wanting to live your life out of love for him, work hard to be the best Christian you can be and then you die and there IS a God? What will happen then? Ah… the answer is very different! The answer is eternal life with Christ. The answer is pure love and joy. The answer is that not only did you live a life of great love and you made the world a better place, but now you will live out the rest of your days surrounded by the greatest love ever!
Finally, what if you live your life not caring one way or another if it is true and you never strive to be love and light in the world and once you die there is no God? Well, nothing happens. You’ll simply be gone. But there is a harm done because you probably didn’t help those who needed to be helped and didn’t change the lives of others or leave the world a better place than when you entered it.
But what if it is true and you have lived your life with your back turned to God, not sharing his light or love, refusing to believe and then you die and God is waiting for you there? Well, there are a couple things that will result from this. First, you won’t have lived your life as fully as you could have and you would waste opportunities for love and joy while you are alive. But even more so you risk an eternity separated from God… you risk eternal damnation.
That’s quite the risk.
Point to Ponder: The chances of it all being true are very high.
I don’t want to focus on how to prove that God exists. You can read tons of books, hear tons of lectures, study life under a microscope, and be more knowledgeable about your field of study than anyone else and it still all finally boils down to faith. What I do want to talk about is the way we live our lives.
Matthew Kelly had some great lines within this chapter and I simply want to point them out for each of us to think on in greater depth:go
“If I spend my life preoccupied with me and my own happiness, I will live life missing the deepest joy that God has for me.”
“God gives us life one moment at a time, and he wants us to experience life in every breath we take.”
“I am so convinced [that the Gospels are the best way to live life] that even if you could prove to me that God does not exist, that eternity does not exist, and that after we die we simply cease to exist, I would still believe that the teachings of Jesus offer the best way to live.”
“There is a direct connection between my effort to live the Gospel and the amount of joy in my soul.”
Verse to Live: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.” Psalm 143:10
I hope to live out God’s will in all I do. I know that by doing so not only do I benefit but those around me do as well. If I follow God’s plan then I not only can bring love and joy to others, but I can help lead others to live lives that are open to serving one another, that put the best interests of others first, that seek to bring happiness to each other, and that wish to spread love to everyone they encounter. Can you imagine what our society would be like if everyone lived their lives in this manner? It can happen, but it has to start with us and we have to be willing to go out into the world to teach others.
Question to Consider: If you were dying, would you be paying more attention to your spiritual health than you are today?
I liked the question he posed in the chapter that said, “If you knew you were going to die one year from today, how would your life change?” It’s amazing to think about what changes we may make. I think the bigger question is why would we wait to make these changes until we are dying? Why don’t we start changing now?
I challenge you to imagine you are going to die a year from now. Make a list of things you would do differently or that you just want to do in your life. Take a hard look at that list. Start those changes NOW. Become the person you know that you are called to be and that deep down you want to be. Don’t wait until you are dying.
Your Turn: Do you believe that God exists? Do you ever question your faith? What if you decided that today was the day you would start truly living for Christ? Do you think that things would change for you?
Prayer: Jesus, guide my words, thoughts, and actions so that I can live my best life and become the best version of myself.
I apologize for the lateness of day 38. I will post today’s reflection, day 39, this afternoon. Thank you for your patience!