LIVE ~ LEARN ~ LOVE
What is the most important thing in your life? Almost everyone has a different answer to the question of what is important in life. Some people may say that the most important thing in their life is their family, friends, happiness, or good health. There may even be some people who would say that sports, money, or a career is the most important thing in their life. I am sure that you have your own answer as well. There are many responses that people can give to this question because we are all different and none of us are exactly alike. We each have different priorities and goals in life.
Is there one right answer to this question concerning what is important in life? Do we all share a common reason to live? Before we can answer the question concerning what is important in life, we must first look at how we came to be. If we start at the beginning of mankind's history, then the words of Genesis which is the first book of the Bible might provide some insight.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.”
... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God, he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-28
In other words, God made us. I will not debate whether he just created us instantly as we are today or whether he created us through an evolutionary means. What is important is that he made us. We did not just happen along. God is the creator. The story in Genesis also tells us about the story of Adam and Eve. Whether the story is literal or figurative is debatable among many theologians, but the important point is the message of having the knowledge of choice.
God created man and woman. He placed them in the garden of Eden where everything was wonderful. Mankind was placed in paradise where there was plenty of food, a warm climate, and gentle animals. There were few if any worries, because there was nothing to really worry about. There was however one rule.
God commanded the man, saying you are free to eat from any tree of the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die. Genesis 2:16-17
God created a paradise for man where there were no big problems, no real worries, no hunger, no need for money, no sickness, no pain, no sorrow, no war, ... no death...just life. It appears that mankind had no major decisions to make because there was nothing to really decide. Everything was the same. There were no changes, no challenges, no goals and no decisions. There was no right because there was no wrong. There was no free will because there was no choice, except one...the choice was to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
As you know mankind ate from the tree, thus making the decision to learn and acquire the knowledge of good and evil. Some people may say that man chose to break away from God and that was wrong. But perhaps that was God's plan, that we have to learn for ourselves and make our own decisions. Just as a baby lives inside it's mother for nine months, there comes a time of birth when the baby leaves it's mother and is born in to a new world. The baby can not live inside it's mother forever, just as we were not meant to always live in the garden of Eden. The baby must be born to live, to learn to crawl, to walk, to run, to play, to make choices, to love, to experience happiness, and to live a full life. After leaving the garden of Eden we were born in to this life of choice. When the baby is born it does leave it's mother in one sense, but in another way it can still be with it's mother. Since the mother no longer carries the baby inside her, the mother and the baby can now experience a new relationship. The mother can now hold the baby, feed the baby, talk to the baby, and help the baby grew and develop.
We can also have a special relationship with God even though we do not live in the garden of Eden or in paradise. We are in a world of choice. We are given the knowledge to choose between good and evil, between right and wrong, between choosing God or not choosing God in our life.
This leads us to more questions. Has God left us to be on our own? Is God watching over us? If God is with us, why do bad things happen? Why doesn't our heavenly father protect his children or does he? Perhaps these questions can best be answered from a father's point of view. After all God is our Heavenly Father and we are his children. Many of us are also fathers and mothers And perhaps this viewpoint can help us understand our relationship with God.
Do you remember when you were about five years old and learning to ride a bike? Well when my son, Keith was at that age of five and he was learning to ride a bike without training wheels. As you may remember it is an exciting time in a five year old child’s life when he can balance a two-wheel bike and ride by himself. After I had removed the training wheels from his bike, I would run along side of him as he rode and I would hold the bike so that he would not fall down. Keith really enjoyed riding but he could not ride too far, because after awhile I would get tired from running along side of him. But each time that he rode his bike I would let go just a little bit more each time. Then finally it was time for me to let go completely and let Keith ride by himself. I let go of the bike and watched Keith riding by himself. I clapped my hands to congratulate and encourage him. He was so proud to be riding by himself. After a few moments he started to wobble a little and then he put out his feet and stopped. I congratulated him again and gave him a hug. We were both happy about his accomplishment. Then Keith wanted to ride again. So I helped him get started and he began to ride by himself. But after a few moments the bike wobbled and Keith fell down. He began to cry because he had scraped his hand. I ran over to him. Do you know what he said to me? He said, "Dad, why did you make me fall down?" I said," Keith, I didn't make you fall down, you fell down by yourself." Then he said, " Dad, why did you let me fall down."
Why did I let Keith fall down? Maybe I should not have let go of the bike. But sooner or later I would have to let go otherwise I would always have to run along side of his bike when ever he rode. I just could not see my self running along side of my son's bike when he was fifteen and riding to school. I could not be with him all the time. There would have to be a time when I had to let go so that he would learn to ride by himself. There would also come a time while he was riding that he would probably fall down. Sometimes you have to fall down a few times before you can learn to ride by yourself.
This bicycle story can be an analogy for each of us in our relationship with God. God may run along side of us as we ride through life, but there comes a time when he must let us learn to ride by ourselves. If God always held on to our bike or kept us in the garden of Eden, then we may never really learn or choose. We would never be born in to a life of choice.
Some of us may learn to ride a bike very easily, while other people may have a harder time. We are all different and no one learns exactly in the same way as another person. But we must learn and grow. We may have to fall down many times before we are able to ride a bike or ride through life. But do not be discouraged, the rewards of learning to ride are great. This world is our childhood in which we are to learn. We learn about good and evil...about right and wrong. It is our life that is given to us to experience. We may be riding by ourselves and we may fall down, but is God near?
My youngest son, Christopher has asked me where is God? Since I am a pilot and spend many hours flying in the air, he asked me if I ever see God up in the sky or do I ever "run into him" up in the sky while I am flying. At first I was tempted just to tell him that God is much higher in the sky then airplanes can fly. But Christopher is very good at asking more questions if he does not like the first answer that I give to him. So I knew he could then ask how much higher in the sky is God. Should I tell him that God is way above the clouds or past the moon or out among the stars? There was another problem with putting God too high in the sky. How would he hear prays if he is high in the heavens and we are far below on Earth? Where is God and is he near by watching us?
Perhaps that question can best be answered if we think back to our early days in Sunday school when we learn that God is in three persons‑the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is the creator of all that is and the Son is Jesus Christ. But who is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is the spirit of God in us, if we ask him to be with us. The answer to my son's question concerning where is God is that God, the Holy Spirit, is in us. We are not alone if we ask God to be with us. The way to receiving the Holy Spirit is found in the Gospel of Luke.
Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you… Your Heavenly Father shall give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. Luke 11:9-13
In other words we may be riding alone to learn about life, but we are not really alone if we ask for the Holy Spirit and accept the Lord. The Lord is here. He is with us and watching but we must also learn to ride through life on our own. God does not manipulate our lives but instead shares our lives.
In summary, we know that God created us. We are his children. We were born in to a life of choice to live and learn. We make decisions and sometimes we fall down, but we are not riding through life alone. The Holy Spirit is with us if we only ask God to enter our lives.
So what is it that we are to learn and what are we to do? What is important in life? In Matthew 22:37, Jesus is asked which is the greatest commandment in the law. Jesus replied that you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and foremost commandment. The second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
We are God's children and he is with us if we ask him. We are all tied together through God. There is a bond between us. But yet we have different experiences and different lives. After all it would be very boring if we were all alike in every way. If we all looked alike and we all did exactly the same thing. In this world we are all different. Some of us are tall and some are short, some poor and some rich, some sick and some healthy, some happy and some sad. This is the world of choice and challenge. We will each learn to ride through life in many different ways, but remember that we are also tied together through God. We are all as one. We are truly all brothers and sisters. The Holy Spirit is with us. God is with us now. We are not alone. We have God and we have each other.
Face the choices and challenges ahead boldly. Live and experience life to it's fullest. We should not be afraid or worry. We have been given life so that we may learn to love. We are to love God and to love one another. When we love another, we are loving God as well.
We are here to live, to learn, and to love.
June 25, 1988