My oldest son was talking about his goal to compete in a surfing competition someday, and my seven-year-old retorted with a goal of his own. “My goal is to go to heaven,” he said matter of factly.
While I was pleased with his response, I was also surprised by it. Like you, I am used to hearing about typical goals – to lose weight, pay off debt, get promoted, buy a bigger house, be more organized, blah, blah, blah.
And I get it, that blah, blah, blah is important. It keeps us healthy, housed and hopeful. But, does it help us get to heaven?
Sometimes, chasing goals can make our lives hell. We have all been there, where we put our jobs before our families, our wealth before our health and our earthly gods before our one true God.
We live in a world where distraction is everywhere, so much so that it has become a medical diagnosis. Communication with others has become so constant that it’s contemptible. We have become too harried to spend time seeking God’s haven in churches. So, we shop the countless rows of books on happiness in search of solitude.
It’s sad, really.
My same son for a school assignment was asked to write about being President of the United States. He wrote: “If I were President I would help everyone who needs me and follow the corporal works of mercy and the spiritual works of mercy.”
Obviously, he knows about my blog and I am sure that influenced what he wrote. Still, last year as a first grader he wrote for this same assignment, “I would help the poor. I would have lots of family and I will love them.” (He also wrote that he would live in Canada, wear jeans and a tee shirt and have a parrot.)
Children get what we adults don’t — service and love for others is our true calling.
What if world leaders did indeed follow the works of mercy? What if the rest of us did? What would our world, communities and families look like?
Sometimes when I am explaining my blog to people I tell them that even if they are not religious or don’t believe in God, if they did works of mercy, they could make the world a better place. How can anyone be against that?
“What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 9:31
It is so simple even a child can understand.
When I was younger I questioned whether I wanted children. I really wondered why people had them. It seemed almost narcissistic like people who had them were so vain they needed to make a miniature version of themselves. Perhaps they needed to count them among their trophies like their house, job and cars. Or, live vicariously through them and once again be a baseball player or ballerina.
I don’t know what changed my mind, but I came to badly want them. Now that I have been a mother for more than a decade, I think that God gives us children to help us forget what we have learned as adults. Perhaps He blesses us with children so we can re-learn how to love without inhibitions, forgive without grudges and serve without pretense.
It seems that we start life on the right path and then somehow get lost among the spectacle and distraction of the world. Or, we get so beat down along the way, that we no longer believe we are worthy of the righteous path.
No matter. Because as aged and wrinkly as we become, to God we are still His children. He loves us like a parent and wants to protect more than our existence, but our eternal soul.
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” — Matthew 7:9-11
I know that life is often hard. But we might be guilty of making it harder than it has to be. Perhaps if we scaled back on some of our earthy goals and embraced a little more imperfection, we can be more ambitious in our pursuit to heaven – and even enjoy more happiness while here on earth. Acting more like children of God, even after gravity has set in, will help us be more loving and accepting of one another.
I figured out a few years into my parenting gig, that my children are smarter than I am — and not because they can do harder math either. It is the transparency of their innocence, purity of truthfulness and perfection of an open heart that makes them much wiser than their mother.
I think it also makes them closer to meeting my son’s goal to someday go to heaven. “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” — Matthew 18:3.
So, what is my goal? It is to forget everything being a grownup has taught me, so that I remember what is so easily forgotten, I am first a child of God. Everything beyond that — is nothing at all.