In my early twenties, I decided I’d try one of those “pyramid-deals.” You know, one of those “this isn’t a get rich quick scheme, this is the real deal.” Or, this one’s better, “I started as a stay-at-home mom in my part-time, today I make (insert lavish dollar amount) and I’m still a stay at home mom…working part-time!”
I recall the motivational orientation. (Flashback begins)
Que the 90’s upbeat dance music (let me add “cheesy,” too).
Now, put yourself in a hotel banquet room, with about 100 others. Clapping.
The lights dim. Except for the make-shift stage.
Some guy in a Miami-vice suit jumps up front with one of those stupid wireless microphones attached to his ear.
His overly enthusiastic smile is enough to make you want to chew your own face off! (Kinda makes you wonder how you ever got there, better yet, how ANYONE ever got there).
Anyway, after a 30 minute rags-to-riches testimonial, and an unparalleled changing of this man’s life, juxtaposed with picures of the Carribean, the big cruise ship, and the new Porche (you know, it’s always the same picture of the Carribean, isn’t it?), you begin to think, “I want that life.”
“I can do this.”
“I just need three friends.”
“Yeah, piece of cake. I’ll be the next motivational speaker!”
Three months later, where are you? Or, let me personalize it, where am I? I’m on the phone trying to get the auto-pay option discontinued. I have boxes of materials stuffed away and a long list of friends needing apologies.
The truth is, none of that should have any real lasting appeal. Be thankful that’s not your life. Did you know that the overwhelming majority of lottery winners end up right back in debt within years? (See this article, if interested). It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? Maybe that’s why it’s been said that if all the world’s wealth was divided up evenly amongst the population, within a few years, we’d all be back in the same spots.
Personalize it for a minute. Do you receive a “refund” during the tax season? Meaning, instead of paying into the tax coffers, do you receive a hypothetical “bonus check?” I worked with this young woman once who told me she got an $8,000 tax refund one year! The irony was, just earlier she was complaining about not having enough money to fix her car. I told her that $8,000 divided up over 12 months is over $600 a month! The truth is, if she had been a better planner, she would have set up a cushion for an unexpected expense.
I guess one of the positive impacts of the “pyramid-dream” (let’s forgo calling it a “pyramid-scheme,” shall we?), is the emphasis it puts on PLANNING. Yes, to get the future you dream of, you need to PLAN.
What’s your plan?
No, not financially. Because, as you are already aware, money doesn’t buy you happiness. However, as a good friend of mine recently counter-argued, “no, it may not buy you happiness, but it can buy to access to happiness.” Really? Is money required for access? As if happiness is a theme park and only those who can cover the cost of admission get to partake?
Just earlier this morning I was at the school yard watching my son run to the entrance door. As usual, I drove up to the playground, walked him across the street, and lifted him over the fence. Then, over the next minute, as he runs toward the door, we engage in a battle of who can shout “I love you” loudest.
“I love you, Dad!”
“I love you, Vince!”
And, this goes on until he reaches the door.
Today, he got to the door, and as he usually does, he got the last “Love You” before heading into the building. However, anticipating his “Love You,” I shouted before he did. He laughed and walked in, but then behind the door, through the window, I see him wave “I Love You” in sign-language!
This was happiness!
And, there was no financial figure involved.
As, I climbed back into the truck and turned toward home, I prayed. I told God that I was happy and thankful for the happiness that was overwhelming every fiber of my body. I told him that I am honored to be the dad of the beautiful children He gave me, and that I am amazed at how much He loves me! You see, God loves me so much that He sent His beautiful son to endure a death I couldn’t so I can receive a life I don’t deserve. His son was beaten, bruised, and bloodied for the sins that I committed.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
-2 Corinthians 5:21
I can’t imagine sending my own child to anywhere NEAR the persecution of the cross, let alone for the sins that another committed. Yuk!
Yet, He did.
Because, He loves.
It’s because He loves, I write.
And, I live.
It’s not because of he who is in the world, but because of He who is in me.
God has a plan, too. And, like the “pyramid-dreams,” you should tell at least three people! Jesus calls it “the great commission.”
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Some Christians would be better calling it ‘The Great Omission,” however, as they can hardly muster up the energy to proclaim their King.
Again, what’s your plan? Are you part of the Commission, or the Omission?
Let’s draw a metaphorical hypothetical and find out.
You awake in the middle of the night to a roaring fire across the street. The lot next to your neighbor’s house lit up and in just the time you jumped to the window the flames have already begun crossing the fence. Within minutes your neighbor’s house is going to be caught up in this fire!
Your mind races through your friendly neighbor, his hospitable and loving wife, and their beautiful children.
1) Run out immediately, kick down the door Chuck Norris style, run up the stairs and save them? Or,
2) Let someone else worry about it?
Think about it for a minute.
Jesus called us to be disciples. To lead. To be the light of the world.
Where are we leading people? Into the light! Into safety.
See, Hell is an all-consuming fire (and don’t even begin to dismiss that argument claiming God isn’t hateful and wouldn’t send anyone to Hell! Because He’s not hateful. And, He doesn’t send anyone to Hell. They choose it). If we don’t warn others of the encroaching FIRE, they’re likely to BURN. Seriously. And, it really IS that simple. People have a tendency to complicate religion, but really, Jesus made things quite simple. There’s life and there’s death. No middle.
You don’t have to be a trained fire-fighter to warn people of fire. And, if this doesn’t offer total reassurance, you don’t even have to fight the fire (although, if your profession actually is a firefighter, please continue to do the awesome work you do!)!
As Jesus warns in Matthew 25, be as the homeowner on the lookout for the thief. That is, be prepared! Get your soul protected with the armor of God, and let Him extinguish the flame. Just be on the lookout for others, and show them the light!
You are the light of the world.