What if “I’ve finished the race, I’ve fought the good fight” were like arcade games? Heaven is beating the game, and the saints are the ones with a high score.
My dad’s told me stories of bosses and coworkers who thought themselves completely indispensable, that if they were gone the whole department would crumble. They liked being needed, putting out fires, solving emergencies. If they went on vacation, they’d worry that the whole department would come to a grinding halt, that without their presence no one else could accomplish anything. Behind it ran an attitude of “it all depends on me.”
It’s funny hearing a missionary tell their story, a lot of times it ends with “and then I became a missionary”, as if everything is suddenly easy. That’s definitely not what happened to me.
Ever wondered why we have relics? Or ever thought it was weird that we have pieces of saints, or things they owned/touched? In St. Augustine’s day, people wondered the same thing, and in one of his writing he explains why.
“Yeah, I was open and honest about my feelings, I told her exactly how I felt. I said that at times she can be thoughtless and selfish. And guess what? She didn’t respond well. Maybe that’s why I don’t share my feelings very often.” We’ve probably all been in situations like this and can sympathize. But there’s one major problem: not a single feeling got shared. None. Zero. The only things said were about the other person, that she can be thoughtless and selfish. None of those are about the speaker’s feelings.
I remember when I got the phone call. I was sitting in class and ignored it. After, I listened to the voicemail and thought Oh no, this shouldn’t be happening. It was from GM and they wanted me to call them back. I knew they were offering me a job.
If God wants our praise, doesn’t that make him selfish? Well, we praise some excellence in someone else, and God has all excellences in perfect degree. And, praise doesn’t add anything to the one being praised: they already have that excellence. So God doesn’t need our praise, it’s actually for our benefit.
The person who cuts you off in traffic doesn’t know how to drive. You do it and it’s because you’re in a hurry and nearly missed your exit. The person yelling at their kids in a grocery store is a bad parent. You do the same and it’s because you didn’t sleep well last night. What a fantastic double standard. It’s called fundamental attribution error, and it makes you a jerk.
At this point in my story, God’s given me a No and is slowly showing me my need to do mission of some kind, and I’m starting to do it on my campus and see if I should do it after I graduate. But fear is about to creep in. That’s one of the devil’s favorite tactics.
We’ve all heard that comparing yourself to others is unhelpful, but why? And what about comparing yourself to yourself?