Excerpt from Psalm 27: 7-14
“I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
In the 1960’s, my mother and father left the church they grew up in for many reasons. One thing they really objected to was the idea that we shouldn’t ask for too much in life because we’ll get our reward in Heaven—also known as “pie in the sky, in the bye and bye.” For my parents, this meant teaching poor people that God wanted them to stay poor, so they shouldn’t strive for a better life, or get an education, or question their superiors.
The life-denying idea that all the best things are available only after death is a dangerous one. It appears to inspire suicide bombers and other violent religious fanatics. And then there are the people who see no point in nuclear arms treaties or trying to alleviate poverty or cure disease because the rapture is coming any day now. A lot of those people vote; some of them are in Congress.
On a personal level, there may be less emphasis now on waiting for a reward in the afterlife, but we still find ways to de-value the time we’re given here in “the land of the living.” For some, it can mean a barely perceptible sinking into a “Why bother?” attitude toward things—first this, then that, and eventually you can’t see any of the goodness of the Lord at all. (The same effect can be had by watching reality TV.)
Or we can continually postpone happiness by making the future the equivalent of an afterlife, as if the really good stuff is always going to happen “later.” What is it about right now that makes us want to get it over with as soon as possible?
Let me see the goodness of life every single day, as long as I’m here. Amen.
New for Lent—The Jesus Diaries: Who Jesus is to Me, Entries from the Stillspeaking Writer’s Group. Ideal for your weekly Lenten discussion series. Eight short, conversational essays by writers of the Daily Devotionals.
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