I’ve been going through a tough period in my life. It’s odd considering in a lot of ways things are better than they’ve ever been. But for some reason I haven’t been able to shake a haunting hollowness from the periphery of my thoughts.
Assessing my life I realized I may be out of balance and noticed I had stopped reading spiritual works, something I’ve done since a being a young man.
To remedy this I bought a bible. I had considered purchasing one for some time. I’m in no way religious but I do believe spiritual texts can aid us in self-discovery. I read these tomes not to define my beliefs, but to help shape and explore them.
Over the years there have been a few books that I have liked to read for spiritual reflection on a regular basis. A list of them is here:
The Good Books…
I have now added the bible to that mix. I’ve read the good book multiple times over the course of my life, but I thought I could benefit from more routine reflection.
To help with that I decided to go with a practical version of the Holy Book. It’s a great rendition that breaks down the bible into daily readings for 365 days. It’s something a stumbled upon after reading an inspiring post by Michael Hyatt.
My plan is to read one passage each evening and reflect on the message while determining how it applies to my life. I do believe, not only with the bible, but any book spiritual or not, that books deliver us messages we need to hear if we are open to them.
The First Passage…
On my first reading, during a fine spring evening as my two youngest children played in the backyard, I came across a passage that resonated with me.
The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father. – John 10:15
I’ve always read spiritual texts beyond the surface. I agree with many great minds that there is a exoteric and esoteric interpretation contained in the writings of our spiritual forefathers, an idea further cemented in my psyche after reading Ernest Holmes in my younger days.
This has always inspired me to interpret the bible myself, seeing how it’s message reverberates in my own life.
As such, I read this passage as being less dramatic then a surface reading would render.
The concept of laying down our lives, or sacrificing for others, is often parroted around. That phrase alone did little for me. It is the words that followed that statement that caught my attention.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.
The power imbued in that statement almost gives me the shivers. Imagine taking control of your own life so definitely that no one, not even death, can take it away from you. Instead you give of your life as you see fit. You lay it down by your own accord.
This is living life on your own terms. Too often I hear about the struggles of good people and there’s this sadness underlying their stories, as if their struggle is something imposed upon them. They aren’t living by their own cord. Instead they are cast around by the unseen hands of “fate”.
This is the life of the victim. A struggle dictated by circumstances.
Reframe Your Struggles & Reshape Your Life…
Instead of thinking of our sacrifices as some external oppression, what if we started looking at them as choices? Choices we make of our own accord. What if we saw our struggles not as a road full of obstacles but as a pathway that will make us stronger the longer we traverse forward.
Would you rather struggle or endure? It’s a matter of choice.
Taking it further I found the idea of laying down my own life appealing. Instead of being snatched from the world by the hands of some reaper, the thought of bringing closure to my life in a thoughtful manner, or dying in peace sounds like the way to go out.
Rather than looking at death as an enemy, I would like him to greet me as an eager new friend.
I’m reaching my mid-thirties and the reality of my age is setting in. I’m no longer mindlessly young. Time is now something I’m much more conscious about.
Mortality lingers at the edges of my smile, at the corner of my eyes, teasing me like an ethereal jester.
I’ve not taken the best care of myself and I’m overweight and out of shape. Thoughts of dying due to something like high cholesterol or a heart attack don’t sound very appealing. It seems downright pathetic in all honesty. I need to take control.
The passage I just read makes me want to take responsibility for my life and my death. I need to develop the discipline to have such control of my thoughts and actions that I can give of my life and take it back as necessary.
I no longer wish to be caught up in a whirlwind of indecision and confusion. I seek clarity. Moving forward my thoughts will not haunt me, instead they will propel me forward to carry out my purpose.
When all is said and done I’d prefer that my own death is not a tragedy, but something quietly noble. In order for that to happen I have to take life by the reigns. I need to carry out my purpose, and when my work is done then I can lay down.
Until that day, I will stand strong.