We’re climbing ladders to nowhere

If you are living for what you can never lose, you will find a life in which it is possible to live and to die with no regrets.

Is this all there is?

I remember the first time I wondered about that question.

After spending an amazing day at Disneyland, the following days brought this aching feeling of let-down.

I had anticipated that day for so long.  The sleepless nights beforehand. Thoughts tumbling over and over in my head.  Dreaming about the rides I’d go on. The excitement that raced through my veins when the morning finally arrived. Today is the day. We’re heading to Disneyland.

Then, this aching feeling inside the day after.

And the day after that.

The inarticulate thought that raced through my body – the ache that was hard to find words to describe.

“Is this all there is?”

I wouldn’t have thought about it in those terms – but that was the heart of my indescribable ache.

This dull sense that there must be more to life than living for the Disneyland experiences that fades away the day after.

Recently I attended a seminar on “mid-life crisis.”

As I approach my 40th birthday – I know it’s a bit early for “mid-life crisis” – I’ve always joked with my wife that when the “mid-life” comes, I’m sure the whole “mid-life crisis” thing will hit me hard.

The ‘is this all there is’ question will be sure to haunt me.

The speaker, David Powlison, started with some questions that we’d rather not think about, let alone have them just sit with us.

“Who am I?

“What am I living for?”

What lasts?”

“What can make right what is so wrong?”

We were invited to ponder the possibility that a “mid-life crisis” is a sign of having given bad answers to these questions.

And then this metaphor was used: it’s like we’ve been climbing 15-foot ladders that are leaning against a 30-foot wall.

Ladders to nowhere.

Oh sure, we’ve achieved a lot. We’ve acquired a bunch of stuff that has given us joy.

We’ve earned a reputation and a status in our careers or among our peers.  And yet, there is this nagging question that won’t go away as we look down at the ladders we’ve been climbing – “is this all there is?”

How do you get to the middle, or the end, of your life and look back with no regrets?

What does last?

What does have meaning?

Jim Elliot, a young Christian who was killed while only 22 years old, wrote this in his journal a few years before his death:  “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Elliot knew a God who had already given him more than everything he would ever lose in this life, and more than he’d ever fail to get.

In a nutshell, if you are living for what you can never lose, you will find a life in which it is possible to live and to die with no regrets.

What about you?

Tim Sheridan is senior pastor at Maple Ridge Christian

Reformed Church.

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