I recently read this product description for a book I want to read by Luci Shaw called The Crime of Living Cautiously:
"Unexpectedly, the moment of opportunity comes to us--the prospect of entering a reality larger than we'd guess. A spacious option opens up before us, an urgent demand that seems to call for special enterprise, life-threatening perils or summons to action. Suddenly we realize that such a chance might never come again. What do you do when faced with such a moment? Do you sometimes get frozen into a state of inaction? Do you wonder if you are wasting the talents God has given you? Or if you enjoy adventure, do you struggle over whether a risk is just a reckless attempt to feed your own needs or a true calling from God?"
The last sentence is what gets me. It's what's been getting to me for the past year and a half as I've struggled to understand my motives in life. London was amazing. Spectacular. Exciting. Challenging. A learning and growing experience for my career, marriage, faith and independence. But by the end of it I was exhausted--ironically not from the growing pains or constant running from here to there, but from my inaction. From my couch potato state of mind. I had spent the entire year consuming, fattening myself up on the luxury of adventure and investing in experiences that would enrich me.
I've had a lot more time to think about my life these past few months, and Shaw's question strikes a deep chord in me. Are my ambitions just selfish needs, or can they be used to better lives? Why do I pursue what I pursue? What's at the heart of my desires? Is more of my time focused on how I can be served, or how I can serve love to a broken world?
It's always been a difficult balance for me, especially financially. I don't know when enough is enough. I never feel like I am generous enough with my time or money or talents. But it's made worse by our "me me me!" culture, and I wonder how much of it has invaded my psyche. We've got a crazy thing called the 'Prosperity Gospel' being preached by people who apparently read the same Bible that I do. (Interpretation is a funny thing...) We've got books in Christian bookstores written about how God wants us to pursue our wildest desires. What does that really mean, wild desires? I'm going to be really honest here and say that I'd have to dig down pretty deep to find even an inkling of what I could call a "wild desire" that wasn't selfish at the core.
I'm not much of a fantasy buff but I have read Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia and part of the Hobbit. And I've watched the Lord of the Rings films and a few other fantasies. Of all the waking moments in my life, it's when I'm involved in these stories that life becomes more real than it ever does in the daylight. I involve myself with the characters, their adventurous life and death struggles and their passionate love affairs, and I place myself in their majestic, tangible world, and I think to myself: this--this is what my life would look like if I drew back the thin screen between the spiritual and physical worlds. I wouldn't recognize my own life. It would be more piercingly colorful and staggeringly horrid and achingly beautiful than I could ever imagine.
If the only thing that divided this world and the next was a wardrobe, or a screen, or death, would I have the guts to go through?