June 2014

Achieving the here and the now

In last month’s newsletter I quoted the words of Jesus when he said that he “came to bring life in all its fullness (John 10:10). I looked at abundant life and thought that it comes not just through achieving the goals that we have set ourselves.

The usual goals in life are getting married, having 2.3 children (normally a boy and a girl, not too sure what the 0.3 ends up being), having a satisfying, well paid job, a nice house with all mod cons, a good car, living happily ever after with a loving and devoted spouse (the same one you married at the start), with an excellent pension and at least one (and hopefully two or even three) overseas holidays ever year along the way. Oh, and the health to enjoy all of the above.

It might by that one of the above is slightly higher in your list of priorities than another but add a few ‘bucket list’ items (ie visit the Eifel Tower, the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Barrier Reef, shake hands with the Queen, jump out of a plane with a parachute and live to tell the tale, write a best-selling critically acclaimed novel etc) and in our popular imagination that should mean a successful and satisfying life.

I suggested that the journey – the how – of achieving all of the above is just as important as any achievements we may make along the way. The hope is that we take the time to savor the special moments all the way to the big achievements. The ‘how’ is an awareness of the moments and an awareness that God is in those moments with you.

I hope we all achieve our life’s goals (assuming your goals are indeed worthwhile) but there is an inherent problem in looking at a person’s life as the sum of his or her achievements. It’s this. There is no guarantee we will achieve all these goals or even some of them.

I’d better let you into a secret. I doubt whether I’ll succeed in that best-selling critically acclaimed novel on my bucket list. I’m sure if I ever got round to actually writing it, it would literally run off the shelves. Well that is if I finally got around to that creative writing course at the further education college, well and actually had an idea for a novel. Sometimes we fail to achieve our goals as we don’t actually attempt them. Fair enough, but God is still in the sunsets and the laughter of my children.

But other times we don’t achieve because our circumstances change. We lose our job. Our health deteriorates. Our spouse leaves us. The pension provider goes bankrupt. We can’t afford a holiday. None of those things are good or pleasing; in fact they can be downright catastrophic. But if we have discovered the abundant life that is along the way, those moments when life is simple and special, the lack of goals being achieved don’t mean we are failures. They mean that God’s abundant life is lived in the here and now and not it the distance when we may or may not be staring at the Victoria/Niagra Falls, swimming with dolphins or winning the Man Booker prize for that best-selling novel.


June 2014