Reuven, do you know what the rabbis tell us God said to Moses when he was about to die? … He said to Moses, ‘You have toiled and laboured, now you are worthy of rest.’ …
Human beings do not live forever, Reuven. We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. So it may be asked what value is there to a human life. There is so much pain in the world. What does it mean to have to suffer so much if our lives are nothing more than the blink of an eye? …
I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. Do you understand what I am saying? A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life. It is hard work to fill one’s life with meaning. That I do not think you understand yet. A life filled with meaning is worthy of rest. I want to be worthy of rest when I am no longer here. Do you understand what I am saying?
From The Chosen by Chaim Potok (New York: Ballantine, 1967)
When I want to go wide or deep in study, it takes work. When I want to be faithful to the songs I sing in worship, it takes work. When I want to be a good friend or daughter or steward of self, it takes work.
But I find that I like the path of least resistance, the easy way out, to be at the kind of rest where I’m shirking work. Yet I don’t fancy the arrogance of wasting my life on the trivial or the pointlessness of merely money as gain. I’m not keen on striving based on someone else’s ideals or presuming to take the credit when it is really (always, always, always) God at work.
Then where does that leave me? Exactly where I am today, coming to my last semester in seminary. But I’m still as ever wrestling with the rigours it takes to do good work, the kind that deserves its rest. I realise I am immensely privileged even to think on these things.
So it looks like I’m going to have to grow wise and/or wild in the days ahead to keep pushing past my fear of boredom, my instinct for more putrid forms of entertainment, my pleasure in mindlessness. To surrender body, mind and spirit, to passion, purpose and purity.
I expressly don’t know what’s ahead. My heart is still racing to believe (and thus live out) hefty chunks of what my mind seems to be convinced about. But I know this is what I will be clinging to in the massive year ahead: I trust Him, for all that has happened in the past. I trust Him, in all that is happening in the present. I trust Him, with all that will happen in the future. May my will abide with His and His will be done in and through me. Amen.