May 5, Sunday

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“What do you want, really?”

Exodus 24:3-7 (NIV)

When Moses went and told the people all the Lord’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said. He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the Lord. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he splashed against the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.”

As part of my daily devotional reflection, I listen to lectures and sermons from the late Howard Thurman, a pastor, theologian and modern-day mystic. In one such recordings, he challenged his hearers to ask a simple, but I think profound, question – What do I really want? In this he presses all who choose to respond to examine our lives and discern where our efforts and energies are directed and directing us. And to ponder what is really worthy of the offering of our energy and resources, our days and ultimately our life. I offer his words for your reflection today:

What do I want? What do I want, really? What is it that is the fundamental thing that I am after with my life? What is the meaning of all the activities, and all the strivings, and the struggles? What after all is my point? Am I really concerned ultimately with providing some windbreak against the world around me? Am I really concerned about the accumulation of economic power which will give to me some sense of quiet security and tranquility without the threat either of poverty or some other kind of insecurity that can be measured in terms of dollars and cents, of things and property? Is this the be all and end all of my striving? Or is it for something else? Perhaps for fame or a certain kind of honor so that my name or my memory will be preserved and men will take cognizance of my presence, not because of what I may be in and over myself, but because of the kind of image that my life projects on the screen on which other men are looking. Is this the thing that I’m after? What is it that I really want? What is it that’s capable of making me bring to bear upon a single end or focus or purpose all of the resources of my life, my thinking, my dreaming, my struggling. So that in the fulfillment of myself this thing will follow.

As I’ve pondered these questions for myself, I’ve been excited as some of the deepest desires of my heart begin to come into focus. I’ve also been sobered as I take account of my daily efforts and humbly acknowledge their distance from those desires. What are the deepest desires of your heart? Toward what end are your daily efforts and strivings directed? When you close your eyes for the final time, what do you want your life to have been for?

Yesterday, AMI family gathered to honor the life of Pastor Johann Kim. Since his passing on Easter weekend, I’ve read countless reflections on the impact of his life and ministry from folks all over the world through emails and social media posts. I’ve especially marveled this week at the kind of life that’s lived in such a way that when it’s all said and done on this side of eternity, family and friends in the midst of grief and longing are able to experience some measure of peace and even joy in knowing the eternality of the life and work of their loved one who has gone Home. When we are clear about our life’s purpose and when that purpose is kingdom-oriented, the impact of our lives will always be some hundred-fold, exceedingly and abundantly beyond what we could imagine. I am so grateful for the cloud of witnesses, the ancestors, the saints who have gone before us who were willing to live their lives in this way.

Prayer: Gracious God, I thank You for the gift of my life and all the resources You’ve store within me. I am so easily distracted by business and all that seems to be an urgent necessity. But, help me today to pause and ponder my purpose. Make me aware of my heart’s desires and my contribution to Your coming Kingdom. Help me to redirect and reorient any of my daily efforts that are misaligned with Your good plans for my life and the world. Remind me of those who’ve walked this path before and finished well. May their lives encourage, challenge, and comfort me on my journey. You Kingdom come. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 5

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