I recently reread the touching story of a wealthy man and his son who loved to collect works of art. (The story appears in several sermons and books, but the original author is unknown.) It goes like this:
We may not all have the same definition of success, but who doesn’t want to be successful? And rightly so. The desire for comfort and security and the yearning for meaning and fulfillment in life are inborn and universal. Why then do so many people seem to settle for less? Why don’t they pursue their goals more actively? There are several reasons, but I think this excerpt from an article I came across exposes one of the most common:
God only knows why He put so many of this world’s most precious commodities in such hard-to-get-at places. If it was to test our wills—to see to what lengths we would be willing to go and what price we would be willing to pay to get to them—it worked.
Whether probing for oil beneath the deserts of the Middle East or within the Arctic Circle, or plunging into the subterranean dark and cold to mine for gold, diamonds, and other precious metals and gems, the most determined of us brave some of the world’s harshest conditions and risk life and limb to get to the source and strike it rich.
This introduction page has traditionally served to present the issue’s topics, highlight an article or sometimes to share an anecdote or personal reflection.
In keeping with the calendar, this month’s issue is primarily focused on the challenges and possibilities of the New Year.
But I’d like to also take a moment to let you in on another milestone this issue marks.
Another Christmas is almost here, and if you’re like most people, you’re probably so busy with all that goes into Christmas that you haven’t yet found much time to stop and think about “the reason for the season.” Well, here’s your chance! This issue of Activated is all about putting the meaning and joy back into Christmas.
You may have heard about the miracle berry, which is an amazing little red berry found in West Africa that causes sour foods, like citrus fruit or hot sauce, to taste sweet. One woman who tried the miracle berry wrote, “Sinking my teeth into the lemon, I braced myself to wince at the sour, citric tang that would inevitably assault my taste buds. But, almost unbelievably, there was not a hint of bitterness. The acidic fruit tasted as sweet as lemon meringue pie. The sensation was surreal, as if I were sampling the result of some worrying genetic modification. Yet it was 100 percent natural, the incredible effect of the ‘miracle berry’.”1
The Bible has a lot to say on the topic of what our purpose in life should be. King Solomon, described in the Bible as the wisest man of his time,1 discovered the futility of living only for this world. He gives these concluding remarks in the book of Ecclesiastes: “Respect and obey God! This is what life is all about.”2
You may have seen the quote by American syndicated humorist Art Buchwald,1 “The best things in life aren’t things.” It has a way of popping up in my mind whenever I’m about to buy a new gadget that I’ve seen advertised or exchange a household appliance for the latest model. Sometimes I give in anyway, but at least this saying usually helps me give the purchase some extra thought and consideration.