Living on the edge
One benefit of living in an unsettled state is that you may be in a better position to appreciate how unsettled life actually is.
True enough, too much stability messes with your mind. So-called security clouds your vision; it serves to distort your view of this world. It is like a drug: dulling your sense of what is going on around you. Prosperity and “success” can make you forget about all the possibilities and perils. It blinds you to what may be just around the bend or for that matter – over the edge.
Feeling too settled and safe down here sometimes leads to living in a state of denial. An inappropriate sense of pride quickly obscures 10,000 different ways you can fall.
Meanwhile, living on this earth continues to be comparable to wandering along on the edge of a towering cliff. Yes, it is a very long way down. So choose your steps carefully, my friend. For despite some improvements in the human situation, your journey is going to be precarious, dangerous, and unpredictable. You can’t micro-manage the madness no matter how hard you try. To mix the metaphors, living on this earth is like walking through a minefield over in Kandahar; it is like jumping out of a balloon 20 miles above the earth daily.
Assuming safe passage makes about as much sense as banking on the banks or buying season tickets for the next 10 years to watch the NHL.
Do you think that this is an overly negative assessment of the future? Is it really?
Consider that your life could come crashing down all around you in the time it takes to send a text. It could. In a moment, all that you have built could instantly be blown away. What you thought was solid and trustworthy might turn out to be as flimsy as can be. You might not be able to phone 911 fast enough. And global warming may well be the least of your concerns. Your health could be failing even now; cancer may have settled in. The Ayatollahs might be arming much faster than we think. One good-sized asteroid landing in the ocean could temporarily create ocean-front property here in Saskatchewan. Three-score and ten might turn out to an elusive dream for entire cities, nations, and civilizations.
There are no guarantees that you will live long enough to read to the end of this brief post or that I’ll live long enough to write it. How could we be so brash as to assume and expect such a thing?
But when you have the house, the car, the career, the bank account; when you are connected, part of the community, and feeling like you fit; when you are riding a wave of public approval and savouring your success; when you are packing a prestigious degree and when your country’s GDP is rising higher and higher…right about then, the “movers and shakers” usually begin to shake. No, it won’t necessarily go on like this forever – moving from one level of personal glory to another. That, however, is what we are all tempted to think.
The “my-empire-will-never-fall” talk will one day come to an end.
At this point, some people – people with good intentions – may be tempted to drag God into the conversation as a way to deal with an increasingly awkward and unpleasant situation. Surely the Lord is going to intervene to prevent anything undesirable from happening to me. Right? Not necessarily. Read God’s book from cover to cover, take a good look around, and you may discover that it doesn’t always work that way. Some desperately want to read the Bible that way. But it doesn’t work.
The reality is that bad things continue to happen. The reality is that all hell could break loose and you could get caught in the crossfire. Many of the early Christians did and many of the modern ones still do. Read the Old Testament, but realize that in some ways the old deal doesn’t still apply. Safety and security were part of the package back then and so was brutal destruction if people disobeyed. Over in the New Testament, if anybody had connections and was on good terms with God it was Jesus. And you know how life turned out for Him.
So don’t expect an easy life. I hope you succeed, but don’t let your success deceive you. Don’t expect to avoid danger along the way. But don’t expect that you will be up there all alone either.
Speaking from experience, you will never be alone.
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