While reading an old book from 1906 by Doctor of Divinity J.R. Miller, I came across a chapter entitled What Is Your Life?
What struck me most was this passage: "What one thinks about life, what conception he has of that strange thing called existence—particularly what he thinks of his own individual life—is a most vital matter. Life is noble or ignoble, glorious or grovelling...No man builds higher or better than his plans. No artist surpasses in marble or on canvas the beauty imaged in his soul, and no one's life can rise in grandeur above the thoughts of life which live in his heart."
The desires we hold deep within ourselves dictate our place in this life and the next. That's why Paul advises us in 1 Corinthians 3:12 to build our lives with the gold, silver and precious stones of thoughts, words, and deeds. Not the cheap foulness of wood, hay or stubble. He counsels us to decorate our inner lives with ornaments of beauty instead of the low or mediocre. To take the high road when it comes to choices.
I remember years ago hearing what I thought was a personal message from the Lord. "Never lose sight of the goal you have implanted in your heart."
I had to think about that for a while. It's easy to lose sight of goals. When playing a strongly contested game in Under 15s football for Keilor, we were close to the final bell, and players from both sides packed our goal square. In the skirmishes, I was fortunate to grab the football. But I was facing the opposing end and couldn't see our goal posts. If I took the time to turn left or right for a better look, the other side would have been all over me. I had a fraction of a second to choose. So I snapped (kicked) the ball over my head in hope. It was a goal, followed by the final bell and cheering. We won the game. Despite losing sight of the goalposts, I knew where the goals were. However, life isn't like that. When we can't see the goals or our aims aren't sufficiently noble, we rarely get to where God wants us.
It is crucial to have high goals that align with those of Jesus Christ. I've tried to keep high spiritual aims for myself since my collision. Not always succeeding, but trying not to exchange them for something less because it's easier.
What is our life? James 4:14 says "Whereas ye know not what shall be tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."
At my age, this verse is more real to me now than in my 20s when I thought I was bulletproof and life went on forever. For all of us, life stops at some stage.
It has never mattered to God where we came from—what our beginnings were—but where we end up. With Jesus Christ, we can change our ignoble thoughts for noble, our grovelling behaviours for glorious, and the basic image we have of ourselves for something beautiful. When we do that, we find we make better choices.
If you've read my book, FINDING MYSELF INSIDE, you will have noticed the significant changes occurring to inmates when they followed Christ. They found new goals far more glorious but still within reach, which changed their concept of themselves and life. They now chose aims more in line with God, swapping the low thoughts of wood, hay and stubble for gold, silver and jewels of the heart.
Rising above is achievable for us all, and it begins with what image we have in our hearts about life.
Today's prayer:Dear Lord, thank you for the clear difference you've shown me about my aims and desires. Please help me aim for the higher qualities of life with which you are pleased.
Photo by Nathan Aguirre