Ah, the American Dream. This is the idea that everyone controls the outcome of their
life, and that anyone can become anything from nothing. The more “stuff” we accumulate along
the way, the happier we’ll be, right? Guess what? This is the one of the devil’s most successful
tricks, and humans have been falling for it since the beginning of time. The devil tries to twist
what exists to fit his own agenda. Indeed, this idea of control over our life is a temptation that he
threw at Adam and Eve in the garden, and even to Jesus himself. He tempts Adam and Eve with
the forbidden fruit, promising that they will gain knowledge and that they “surely won’t die”
(after God already told them that they would). And the devil tempts Jesus with power in the
desert. You see, this carefully crafted lie of control over our lives is nothing new. Yet we so
often fall prey to it and get trapped. The truth is that we are powerless. We hear in Scripture to
“Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” (Matthew 24:42) Jesus
will return, and we will receive the judgement we deserve. This is inevitable. When He comes,
all of our power, control, and “stuff” will be gone and meaningless. What is going to matter is
how we have lived our life, dependent on Christ or trying to survive independently. So, ARE
WE READY TO FACE JESUS?
When I was a junior in high school, my crazy life took a major slowdown. I got called
out of class one day and was told to pick up my siblings and go to the hospital. The last thing I
expected was indeed what happened. My 46 year-old dad was suffering a major heart attack to
the left side of his heart – commonly called the “widowmaker.” My dad survived that day only
because my mom made a split second decision to bring him to the small hospital in town rather
than drive him out of town to a larger hospital. The doctors later told us he would have died on the way there if that had been the case. In the next few weeks, dad was hospital-bound and I was forced to do a lot of growing up. In the short 22 years of my life so far, I’ve seen a lot of people
come and go from this life. This alone is testimony to the fact that we are not in control of our
lives, and that at any moment, we may be called to face God. So we should ask ourselves, “How
would I feel if I were standing in front of my Maker right now, looking into His eyes?” If we
don’t like the answer we give ourselves, then it’s time to make a commitment.
You see, it’s not enough to go through life just being a good person. Jesus tells us
“There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to
the human race by which we are to be saved.” (Acts 4:12) A relationship with our first lover is
necessary if we are to hope for heaven. Jesus even tells us that it would be better for us to be
cold and distant from Him than for us to go through life pretending to be a good Christian or just
being a good person and thinking that is good enough.
“So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my
God wants all of our love or none of it. He doesn’t want any in between. How many times,
however, does our attention and love get split among many things – alcohol, money, material
possessions to name a few – and Jesus only ends up with a fraction of it?
“What good is it for a man to gain all these things, indeed the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
In my own life, I’ve been pulled away from Christ by many distractions, such as sports, money,
partying, and future plans. Surrendering my control to Jesus and living as His disciple has
brought me more joy than anything I’ve ever experienced.
Often I feel inadequate, as if I can’t make a difference in this world because it’s just me.
It’s not like I’m a saint, and most of the world doesn’t even know my name. How can I make a
difference if I’m basically a nobody? If you are reading this and getting discouraged, don’t
despair. God knows we are forgetfu. One of my friends calls this “spiritual amnesia.” We often
forget who we are and what our purpose is, and we just coast through life on cruise control. We
need to remind ourselves with questions such as “where am I at right now?” or “where am I
headed?” and if the answer to the latter is not “Heaven,” then what are we waiting for? The
Kingdom of God won’t be handed to us. “The Kingdom of God suffers violence, and violent
men take it by force.” Let us “return to the Lord” who awaits us. Even though we may not think
we can make a difference, we must remember that even the smallest light (even just one person)
can be a light to all those they encounter.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a
lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand where it gives light to all in
the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
The problem in today’s world is not the presence of darkness, but the absence of light. Will you
let Jesus strike a match in your heart for the world to see? If you do, you just might find that the
environment around you, including those you encounter, may get brighter and brighter.
Jesus has risen to the Father. He has no physical body here on earth anymore. So who
will be His hands, His feet, and His mouth? Although He has no physical body on earth, His
presence is real among us. And He equips us with everything we need to be His body on earth.
So therefore, I leave us with one thought. God knows all of us, even the secrets and dark places
we want to hide. And we can’t run from Him. If we run, we will only be hiding God from ourselves, not ourselves from God. So instead of running from Him, let’s run to Him. He can transform us if we would only pray, get to know Him, and let Him in. He wants to make us saints, so WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?
-Brandon Soileau, Cowboy Catholic Alumnus