Other Thoughts on the Good Life
“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good.”
We spend our early years ramping up: building up our bodies and physical skills, molding our minds through years of schooling, gathering a wide circle of friends. We find ourselves falling in love and marrying, growing a family, establishing ourselves in a vocation, accumulating financial resources…Then, one by one all these acquisitions are lost…
And the pace accelerates as we age.
Shakespeare in his play, As You Like It, has a sour, melancholy character, Jacques, who gives a speech in which he compares the world to a stage and life to a play:
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant…
Jacques continues through the ages of man to the final stage, to the…
Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."
Indeed, with every passing year we lose one or two or more of the things we’ve spent a lifetime acquiring until finally we have lost everything.. Robert Frost underscores our dilemma: “The question . . . is what to make of a diminishing thing."
What to make of it? Well, first off, we can give our diminishments back to God and leave them there. “In acceptance lieth peace.”
Jesus prayed: “May this cup pass. Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.”
Mary prayed: “Be it unto me according to Thy word.”
We can accept the losses as they come, relinquish the things that have been our life. We can give them back to the God who first gave them.
George MacDonald writes: “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, but the Lord will give back better than ever before…” Better than ever before? To be sure, the thing given back is far better: It is God himself. Our losses dig in us a larger place for Him to fill. The end of the process is to be immeasurably enriched: We possess and are possessed by the one thing we cannot lose: unconditional, unqualified, eternal Love!
Martyred missionary, Jim Elliott, put it this way: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”