We all like to think in terms of ‘goals’ these days. In fact the whole thrust of the ‘self improvement’ movement is about goals. If you don’t have goals, you will not succeed. If you don’t have goals you’d better get working and define some ASAP, if you want to be successful in life. This is the story we are fed.
And just what does ‘being successful in life’ entail in this scenario?
Wealth? Power? Position? Happiness?
The strange thing is that people who set out to attain these things by worldly means, though they may be successful, are rarely contented with the results, even if they achieve them. There is always something else – something elusive that they cannot quite put their finger on, that they find is lacking in their ‘successful’ lives.
That is because they are focusing on the wrong thing – they are focusing on goals rather than submitting to process. In other words, they are focusing on what they can obtain rather than what they can become. (And by ‘what they can become’ I don’t mean wealthy, powerful, important or happy.) We tend to forget the character-building qualities of ‘process’.
As a mundane, physical example from real life, I was talking to a retired builder recently. He said when he started out as a builder’s apprentice, he and his fellow apprentices spent months wheeling barrows of concrete along planks and dumping them into place in the foundations of buildings. “One thing is for sure,” he said, “We put on muscle and we put on skills of balance and navigation with barrowloads of cement, that stood us in good stead for years, working on scaffoldings.” He added that these days, because the whole focus of technology is on quick results, young men coming into the building industry don’t want to ‘waste time’ acquiring physical skills – they just want to drive around in flash company vehicles and draw fat salaries – and they expect it to happen FAST.
The Father isn’t interested in ‘fast’. He isn’t interested in these kinds of goals – He is interested in how we develop in character and in our hearts, and for this purpose He leads us along a path where we cannot see the end from the beginning.
Ever since the Lord put me on the track of rearing sheep on this land in June, though the prospect excited me in many ways, I couldn’t see what relevance it had to serving Him and doing His work. I am fairly isolated here (by choice), except for my contacts and graphics outreach ministry on the Internet. I felt as if my dreams for this property were too personal to be relevant to His work. Nonetheless I stepped forward along the path, getting my outbuildings repaired, mending fences, clearing weeds (with gorse that’s ongoing) and getting the land drainage shipshape again.
The big ‘plus’ was that once I decided not to sell up, a huge weight came off my shoulders. I now have confidence in His working in my life, and am learning to stop planning, pushing and striving, and to put the load onto Him. It’s now truly ‘one day at a time’:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
How well we know this scripture – how little we apply it!
Pursuing the prospects of growing and processing wool, I researched local interest in spinning and weaving. I find there is a club here that meets weekly in a cafe (what a good idea!), and its members teach people to spin and weave. I’m looking forward to attending this coming week. That’s a change – I never once wanted to belong to a local art club! What’s more, although I gave away all my mother’s spinning, weaving and dyeing books to a Lions Club book fundraising sale 2 years ago (“I’ll never use these!”), I’ve tracked down and bought off TradeMe the two books I most remember seeing in her collection. Hallelujah!
Believe me, if there ever was an example of stepping forward in blind faith, this sure is it. I’ve never spun in my life.
Then, as I was finishing off the last post, the Lord drew to my attention a passage from one of my favorite books; ‘My Descent Into Death‘ by Howard Storm. The title of this book is daunting, I know, but it recounts one of the most amazing NDEs of all time. Howard was an atheist, an extremely intelligent man. He died in hospital in Paris from a ruptured duodenum, but instead of the oblivion he expected, found himself under attack by evil spiritual beings. He was saved by Jesus when childhood memories caused him in final desperation to call out to the Savior.
Howard had a life review and was then granted a ‘question time’ with the Lord. One of the many questions he asked was about the future of life in this world and he was told that the world is at the beginning of a spiritual revolution. In fact, he didn’t believe it, and he told the Lord as much.
He was shown a beautiful natural woodland setting, with people passing by. He saw no evidence of technology. No technology was needed because all people could communicate telepathically and people had the power to control matter and energy. The people wore garments of woven materials and exotic ornaments made of metal.
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. ” (Matthew 6:9-13)
What really intrigued me about this picture was the dress and jewelry of the people Howard saw. The description indicates a return to human craft and creativity in place of mass-production technology. I can’t think of anything better! As I mentioned in my last post, a revival of traditional handcrafting skills is already under way – even down to the old hand spinning techniques, with young women now into spinning wool, and teaching others. That surprised me at first, but could this be the beginning of the ‘anti-industrial’ revolution that we need so desperately? Could this be why the Lord has led me out of the corporate world and anchored me here so I could be part of this revolution?
“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth’, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…” (Revelation 21:1)
As well as a brain, the Father gave us a body – and the activity and dexterity of that body feeds back into the development of the brain. Sadly, we have got to the point where bodily skills and dexterity are less and less at a premium. Computers and machines are exercising skills that we should be exercising. Hello?? Looks like we are being undermined by the very technology we created to serve us: maybe some of the science fiction horror stories in film, TV and books are not so far off the mark.
Note: Jesus did not teach His followers to pray, “Father, we can’t wait to get to heaven.” He taught them to pray for the manifestation of the Kingdom here on earth. We should be working towards that now.
The world is ripe for a spiritual revolution, followed by His Kingdom Come. This is an exciting time.