Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Eyes on the prize

Much of what inspires me to write is found in my interactions with other people. I am amazed at the complexity of every individual person that I know. I sometimes wonder about the people I will never meet...the person I brush past in the courthouse, the cashier at the grocery store, the person driving the other way on a snowy road...what are their lives like? are they happy? I like to know what makes people tick.

For the last two years now, I have been literally inundated with a variety of opinions on religion...God...the meaning of life. While there have been many topics that I have analyzed over and over in my mind (and on this blog), there has been one that I have neglected. Heaven. I have taken for granted that there is a heaven because everyone seems to reinforce the idea without question. Whether it is hope for something better or faith that it is there because a book tells them, almost everyone I know has shared the same fundamental belief that heaven exists. I have never questioned this. Until I was faced with sentiment recently voiced by a few friends (online and 'in real life') that did not sit well with me.

The basic premise of the statement was something along the lines of being excited to see what heaven is like.

I didn't comment then and I let it sit in my brain. And then today, for some reason, I was struck with the explanation for my discomfort. Heaven isn't a finish line. This isn't a race. This isn't a set of steps you have to get through in order to get to the better place. This isn't a throwaway. This is life. This is a gift. And to blow it off as though it is insignificant 'in the grand scheme/plan,' seems somehow...I don't know...disrespectful...and wrong.

If God exists, and all of this was given as a gift, then surely there has to be something valuable in the journey. We are supposed to enjoy our families. We are supposed to love and laugh and cry. We are supposed to eat, drink, and be merry. We are supposed to stop and take a look around and just BE.

Would you accept a gift from a friend or a family member with a comment on its value or its useful life? I don't think I would. I would accept the gift, enjoy it for the time I had it, and not make value judgments at all. But I do this all the time with my emotions as I pass through this life. Why?

It's not that people intend to do this. I think we do it quite unconciously. I think we are desperate to make some sense of THIS...this we have to minimize its importance in order to make it hurt less. Surely, there has got to be something better. Surely, all of this can't be for nothing. There has to be a prize at the end. And in the process of trying to achieve that prize, we are missing out on the prize of life.

It's not totally about the end. It's also about what you fit between the beginning and the end. So whenever I hear someone tell me to focus on the ultimate "prize," I am sad for them...because they are missing so much. They have it all figured to cross the finish line. In their eagerness to get there they rush past all the scenery along the way. Yes, some of that scenery is scary and ugly and horrifying. But there's much more of it that is beautiful and breathtaking and lovely. I think I would rather cross the finish line last, having fully participated in the journey.

I'd like to go to heaven. And I may even be excited to see what it's like. But I'm more excited to see where my life takes me next. Heaven can wait.


Stephanie said...

Of all the things I'm sure of, the thing that I am most sure of is today. To not enjoy or at least LIVE today would be a waste and would diminish the gift of life that I have been given. I agree with your sentiment Kate. 100%

Cheek said...

Brilliantly expressed - I quite agree.

Brooke said...

This is wonderful, Catherine. Beautifully written and so true.

pipsylou said...

I hope it wasn't me you viewed as seeing life as "throwaway". My view of heaven makes me realize even more how important this life is...

I was voicing how excited I am to dwell in a place of perfection; where there are no tears or darkness. I too am excited to see what God's plans for my life are, but I know that nothing in this life will totally fulfill me short of's the way I believe we were created - to not be satisfied until we see God's face.

Again, a difference in what we believe, but thank you for this post.

three minute palaver said...

I don't believe in Heaven or believe in anything happening to us after death. I have no comfort in my lack of belief or lack of faith. None of it ever worried me until losing my son. I believe my son died and that is it, end of story. and that actually makes me very sad.

Dana said...

i agree that we should live THIS life to the fullest. we should appreciate every part of it - the good and the bad. we should be thankful that we have today and hopefully tomorrow. i love every part of my life. i am very blessed. i try not to ever take anything for granted and i try to make the most of every minute i have on this earth. more so lately than in the past. i don't want to miss a thing.

at the same time, i am beyond excited at what lies ahead. i can't wait to reside in heaven with all of it's beauty, peace and love. i can't wait until the day comes when there is no more sadness, death, hurt, pain or ugliness. i can't wait to be in God's presence.

however, that doesn't mean that i view my life here on earth as non important. quite the contrary. God put us here for a reason and to just sort of coast through and not give this life our all would be wrong.

i think i've used the following analogy once or twice in the past. ; )

our life here on earth will be much smaller than the period at the end of this sentence when compared to eternity. over in the blink of an eye.

i don't say this to discount this life. rather to help remind myself that things that i think i am missing out on when i do what God wants rather than what i want - really just aren't that important in the grand scheme of things. this lifetime will be short. eternity will be forever. i don't want to make poor choices here in this lifetime that will effect eternity.

i enjoyed your post kate. as usual, you made me think. : )

Schmetterling said...

My friend, there are those on this earth crawling on the ground, their tears falling to the dirt, and they are dragging themselves through life. In our own ways, although not to this extreme, we all do that at one time or another.

We are meant to sow God's word as we clutch the ground with the knowledge that it will reap great, wondrous riches for us in heaven. But of course, we are to love our earthly lives as well, as sorrow-filled and despairing as they can be. These are the ones who will be most greatly rewarded in heaven, the ones who feel that God has forgotten them. But in this life, of course we are to cherish each moment; we have been given so many resources to do that.

I only am speaking from the heart and by no means am I trying to change your thinking. I only want to tell you not to despair, because YOU and those who have greatly suffered are FAVORED and will be given among the best riches that heaven affords. Whether or not you subscribe to that, it is the truth. In the meantime, sow in faith and reap in gratitude for all that you have and all that will come... there is MUCH promise in your future.

I love you. Truly I do. Feel free to take my words in any vein you wish, but know that I will always love and respect you, and that will NEVER change.