Here's the quote that inspired this blog...
- Theodore Roosevelt
Through the years I’ve watched my cloths transition from everything my mother bought to everything that Lynn bought. Every piece of high school clothing of mine has long since been replaced by Lynn’s selections for me and for that I’m grateful. When I look through our closet I’m reminded of occasions, events and special memories that have been marked with the texture and style of our clothes through the years. How Lynn looked in them, how she felt in them, how they garnished her, how much she spent on them, where we were when we bought them, and all that comes with looking fantastic on a tight budget.
As I look at all the cloths that she will never wear again and contemplate what few pieces I’ll pick out for keepsakes I think back to the first time I faced this emotional minefield when Hurricane Katrina struck. Up to that point there was really no motivation to get rid of Lynn’s cloths or my own, but in the face of tragedy, sentimentality is a poor excuse to hold onto things. So, whatever didn’t fit, or she couldn’t get on, save a few precious pieces, went to the Red Cross. Despite the fact that some items had never been worn, some were quite expensive and others had been gifts, they were going to go to people who had more need or more space for them than we did. I really had to face the fact that we just didn’t have the space to hold onto everything that we had ever worn.
Much like mine, Lynn’s wardrobe has undergone it’s own transition as well, from what she bought for herself to what I bought for her and with her. I can’t tell you how many of those purchases were made at the Gap. Her clothing purchases became a team effort, as I was the one that was going to be putting them on her. Some marriages, I’ve been told, have broken up over paint selections, but ours held together over bra selections. Oh there were pieces that I liked for their utility, but Lynn seemed to like several outfits for their frivolity.
In the span of six years, with all the different medications and physical changes, Lynn’s pant size went from 6 to 4 to 8 to 10 to 14 to 16 and back down to an 8, so you can imagine how many cloths can accumulate with all those changes. Lynn couldn’t stand it when I insisted that she wear a size 16 because I wasn’t about to squeeze her into anything else. I don’t think Lynn enjoyed my input on her cloths half as much as I enjoyed her clothing choices for me.
I wish I could look forward to Lynn coming home with a new outfit to show me, or a great deal she found for the kids. I wish I could catch her in the kitchen wearing one of my own shirts or walk her into church with a new dress. I wish I didn’t have to give my clothes or the kids clothes a single thought, but those days have long since past. I wish too that I could help her pick out an outfit, help her dress and comb her hair. I wish I could help her with her lipstick, put on her makeup, pick out some jewelry and tie her shoes but those days are now gone, gone with the wind.
Lynn infused my life with such richness and flavor that I can only respond with thanksgiving to God who so graciously allowed us to truly fall in love. All her clothes, all her things, all her selections are expressions of who she was. These expressions, these outworkings of Lynn will be missed, they are here reminding me of her and with those reminders comes an emptiness that exposes the huge place she had in my life. But through all of this, like an echo of meaning that transcends all of suffering, all of grief and all of misery, like a voice that rises above all of life’s noise, it says, ‘Walt,… this isn’t it,… this isn’t it,… this is just a preview of what is to come’
This is a must read for honest people with honest questions about the purpose and meaning of life, hence the title. I personally think it eclipses other great apologetic work done by C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, and Ravi Zacharias who wrote the intro. Joe Boot has done an incredible job at presenting the reality of truth, the inescapable nature of reason and the claims of Christ to an increasingly skeptical world. Christians and Non-Christians alike would do themselves well to read this.
Some of my highlights...
"humanity alone possesses the power of thought. All our dignity consists in this power. Our survival depends on this power. Our knowledge of morality, and thence how we should behave, depends on this power. So let us strive to think well." - Blaise Pascal
"Many people hate religion. And hatred is deepened because they are afraid it might be true. The cure for this is first to show that religion is not contrary to reason, and thus should be taken seriously." – Blaise Pascal
"Most of one’s life is one prolonged effort to prevent thinking." - Aldous Huxley (intro)
"If we long for our lives to flourish, we must pause first to consider the deep questions of life, for in truth they are inescapable." - Ravi Zacharias (intro)
"To get the best out of life, great matters have to be given a second thought" – Blaise Pascal
"Unless we wish to plead insanity, we must accept that ‘the truth is out there,’ and if we have integrity we shall want to embrace that truth. Truth matters; so the matter of truth deserves our thought and attention."
"How we view life is ultimately that which gives to us meaning, value, and purpose."
"...what we believe determines how we behave."
"...belief determines behavior, it is a law of out minds."
"...nobody waits for a bus not scheduled to come!"
"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates
"Either God is or he is not. We cannot leave this question for the intellectuals, scientists, philosophers, and theologians alone; we must answer it as well. We must answer it for ourselves."
"The person who believes in God and the person who does not believe in God do not merely disagree about God. They disagree about the very character of the universe."
"All our knowledge, then, is an intricate combination of intuition (first truths), induction, and deduction. ... We deduce things from what we innately know (a priori), and the experience of being alive in this world gives us compelling evidence to reach, by inference (induction), reliable conclusions."
"God is a logically required being."
"I am in love with my wife. ... I cannot conclusively demonstrate this with a scientific experiment"
"...we cannot have deductive proof of God’s existence, we have evidence that amounts to an overwhelmingly compelling case – we can achieve a balance of probability that goes way beyond reasonable doubt."
"...if the Bible is true, and if Jesus is who he claimed to be, the conclusion on this point becomes inescapable."
With so many perspectives on Hell floating around to motivate us towards avoiding it I thought I’d add another to the mix. I’ve heard all kinds, each of which carries it’s own haunting nightmarish reality that might be true and should spurn us on in making it absolutely certain that we won’t be there to find out. There’s one that envisions God giving you everything that you so desperately wanted during your life, money, power, pleasure, whatever and then in this hellish possibility you would have eternity to enjoy it - all by yourself. There’s another that pictures you dealing with your greatest fears for the rest of eternity, or the ever-popular burning flames and unquenchable thirst. One that rings with much truth is that Hell is a self-perpetuating place that is locked from the inside and the hatred of God that was fostered here on earth only grows as time passes. In short, Hell isn’t going to be fun, it’s going to be Hell.
As I have watched Lynn deal with so many things over the years, I recall a brief period of time where she was having a very hard time dealing with why she didn’t get her mole checked sooner (she has skin cancer). Why? – Why? - Why? She would torment herself day after day. It didn’t last for more that a week or two but in those weeks she tortured herself sufficiently by going over and over in her mind how she could have prevented what was happening to her. If she had only gone to the doctor, if she had only seen it sooner, if she had only taken more precautions against the sun, if she had only done this or that, why didn’t she do these things, why didn’t she pay more attention and on and on she went until she finally came to the conclusion that either she could accept her circumstance and live it out as unto the Lord, or she could go insane. It’s obvious what path she chose.
When I considered how tortured she was over this, I realized that there are few things in life that can lead to as much self-torture as a stupid decision. Suffering from injustice is one thing, going to prison for something you didn’t do would be tough, but going to prison for a stupid decision seen with 20/20 hindsight vision will fuel more agonizing thoughts that anything I can think of.
And that is where this analogy begins, what if Hell is like that. What if, when you die, you are immediately aware of what is really true? All of the platitudes, worldviews, philosophies of life, and the like are shown for what they are, all the distractions, excuses, indulgences and justifications are taken away and there before you is the truth, that you rejected, in all of His frightful glory, standing before you to be reckoned with. Those words that you had once scoffed at now begin ringing in your ears, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Then comes to mind each time you chose your fate, each time you turned a deaf ear to truth, each excuse, each justification, each distraction, everything and all the effort that you exerted to run from the truth is no longer available and there He is standing before you condemning you by his very presents. You know you’re guilty for rejecting Him and every excuse that you were going to present, every good deed that you were going to offer, all of your philosophies and excuses evaporate in His presents and you know that you are finally going to get pure justice. Your time is up, you don’t even bother to beg, you turn from Him as you have been doing your entire life and begin to torment yourself with the hellish reality that you have made the stupidest decision in all of eternity, you IDIOT!
And then your Hell begins, why didn’t you seek answers for those nagging questions that were begging for answers when you could have? Why didn’t you stop to think? Why didn’t you take time to ponder? Why didn’t you pay attention to the warning signs? You begin to weep, and gnash you teeth, there is nothing you can do except burn with the realization that you took the path that leads to destruction, you played the sucker, you took the bait, you got all life had to offer but you didn’t even bother to contemplate all that eternity had to offer, you FOOL!
If you don’t know where you are going when you die, perhaps it’s time that you give it some thought.