Volunteering for education-related ministries is one of the ways that I’ve learned the most about our faith. This school year is my first year volunteering with high school teens. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I kept the slate blank to let God fill in the details with the wonderful people involved in the ministry as His brushes. Image: watcharakun / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This semester our teens are studying the sacraments. To get the kids’ juices flowing, the teacher of the first lesson asked them, “Why are you here?” Several responses fell along the lines of, “I have to be”, “my parents make me”, “I need to be confirmed” but also “to know God” and “to know how to follow Jesus”. “Well,” the teacher queried, “why do we want to know God?” I was a little stumped myself. I knew the answer wasn’t, “because He said so” and that it was more than “because we love Him”.
“Because,” the teacher said, “we want to be with God in Heaven.”
Salvation! Yes, that is why we’re here. I’m a little embarrassed that the answer didn’t come to me sooner. But maybe the fact that it didn’t speaks to a tendency that many of us have – we get bogged down in the details of our lives and forget that this life is not the end, it will not fulfill our ultimate purpose. And for those who are married – we are also tasked with helping our spouses (and certainly children as well) to obtain eternal life. What a responsibility! How can we stay focused on why we’re here?
In a strange way, I recall our citizenship in the next world poignantly when I suffer. When things are going well, it’s easy to love our life and with it, the things of the world that we encounter and that make up these positive experiences. It’s only in suffering that we are faced with our mortality, with our lack of control of the world around us. When we call to God for assistance, and when we hear of His assurances to care for us, to never forget us, we also understand that true peace may not come to us until we are in His presence forever. Especially when considering cases of tragic poverty, where it feels like entire generations of people have never had a fair shot at a happy life, we remember that this life is not all there is, and that our next stop will be one where suffering ceases.
Prayer is another way to remember that we aren’t just here to live in the space and community immediately surrounding us. Prayer binds us to God and also to others across the world for whom we pray. Even as we intercede for those who may be suffering or who need help, we can thank God for His mercy and for His gift of salvation, which surrounds us in love,
Remembering why we’re here can help us put our lives, troubles, and goals in perspective. I am reminded of the song “Seek ye First the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be opened unto you, Alleluia!” When we focus on God’s work, the other elements of our lives here on earth become more clear, and we are able to tie in the details of our lives with His mission and call for us personally. (Listen to it on this youtube video Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God)
What are some things you do to remind yourself that our final destination is with God in heaven?
Note: Reflections in this blog are my own and do not represent the positions of my employer.