Monday, July 2, 2012

I Want it All!

I asked my 17 year old nephew what he wanted to do for a living, now that he is one year away from college. 
"I want to make lots of money and I don't want to work 9 to 5."
"OK, but what do you want to DO?"  He was leaning back on the couch in my living room.  I was sitting up.
"I might want to go into Psychology."
"Really, why?"
"Because you get to make your own schedule and you can make lots of money."
Based on his motives, I felt I had to shed some light on his career choice.  "Then you shouldn't go into psychology. That career should be left to people who have a passion for helping others with their problems, not just for those who want to be rich and have a cushy schedule."
"Well..." he backed off his answer a little bit at that point.  We've been close for years so I can "say it like it is."  I enlightened him further.
"Are you aware that you practically need a PHD in that field?  It's not a trade school type career my nephew.  You go to school for a LONG time and then, when you get out?  You have to do like 175,000 hours of counseling for a measly stipend so you can get experienced enough to get your license."
He shifted a bit in his comfortable repose.  "Yeah, I don't know.  I just don't want to struggle."
Bottom line with my nephew is he wants the benefits without doing the work.  He wants to find "easy street."  He wants to have all the reward, without the effort.  To be honest, I was disappointed with his answer.  He is smart.  He loves animals, music, building things with his hands.  He is well spoken, sensitive, and athletic.  He has a lot going for him, a lot of God given gifts, but he is well, dare I say it? - Flat out lazy.  Like most teens, he watches TV and sees rich people living a life of luxury and HE WANTS THAT. NOW.  He sees Justin Bieber and probably thinks, "That baby faced punk puts a video of himself singing and playing piano on YouTube and now he's a millionaire?  Why can't I do that?  I want to get rich quick, too!"  I want more for my nephew that just riches and a kick-back work schedule. I want him to find his purpose - God's purpose for his life.  His answer shows however, that he is taken in by the allure of the material wealth and is using that as his bottom line.  If I have lots of THIS, then I won't have to worry about THAT.  Whatever I do, I don't care if I have a passion for it I just want to be wealthy, secure, comfortable.  He actually said, "I don't want to struggle."  I had to resist telling him my entire life story of how I worked my way up the ladder at work, starting at less than $5 an hour...but I did tell him that I struggled, and that most people struggle, in the beginning.  But I eased off.  He has only been here one day and I didn't want to send him screaming back to New Jersey away from his crazy, lecturing, know-it-all, OLD aunt.  (40 is probably more like "ancient" to a 17 year old.)
I could be upset with him or I could realize that I am exactly like him a lot of times, when it comes to my faith.
I want the end results, without having to do the work.
Why do I have God in my life?
Because I want peace.
Because I want comfort.
Because I want to go to heaven.
Because I want love.
Because it helps me live a better life.
These are all great, but they are also all RESULTS. They are the REWARDS of a life lived for Christ.
Do I expect the rewards without putting in any work?
Now, this is not to say that I need to do anything to receive God's free gift of salvation (I just put all the Lutherans at ease), but I do need to DO SOMETHING if I want to grow in my relationship with Christ.
It is the main reason why I do this blog.  It helps me "work out" my salvation and my hope is it is a blessing to others.  It is not because I know it all.  It is because I love to write, and I love God.  Writing is work - but it helps me work through my thoughts and my faith and usually I come out at the end of my blog entry with a better understanding of God and my faith journey.  This journey requires work. The journey has benefits, sure, but it requires the work of prayer, of reading the Word, going to church, serving others, listening, being still, asking for forgiveness, seeking truth.
Honestly, it would be so much easier if I could just get to the peace and happiness part without having to put in any effort at all.  In other words, just give me the benefits of Christ now because I don't have time to really work at getting to know him.  I want God like I want ice-cream.
"Yes, hello God.  I'll take a large scoop of your peace and a scoop of your love on a sugar cone, please.  No sprinkles."
Instead, as it turns out, I've got to churn the butter, sugar and whatever the heck else is in home-made ice-cream to get to my Rocky Road.
Salvation?  That I already have.  Eternal life?  Signed, sealed, delivered.
Peace, passion, a clean heart, a new mind and life like Christ?  STILL CHURNING.

So, my nephew, we are more alike than you think.  We want happiness without sacrafice.  We want our peace of mind delivered on a silver platter while we sit fat and happy on the couch being fed grapes by a beautiful person.  We want a video on Youtube that skyrockets us to success.  You want it here on earth from your job, I want it all from God.
We both should know better.

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