“Experience is the teacher of all things.” –julius Caesar
It seems curious to me that, when we talk about what living the perfect life might be like, we think of life lived as we see in a Lotto 649 ad: exciting!–like diving off high cliffs into azure pools below, relaxing with invited friends on deck of our own personal luxury cruise yacht, laughing and partying with not a care in the world. Yet, when one hears years later about these lotto winners who’ve tried this type of life, the majority of them–or anyone, for that matter, who tries to live the good life as advertised by these get-rich-quick companies as the perfect dream-life, we see total disaster.
From all this I gather that such an artificial life–unearned luxuries–isn’t what we came here on earth to experience. Yes, dreaming big is part of our purpose, and it’s a noble purpose, but dreaming big involves effort and personal involvement on our part in order to accomplish those dreams. Then we can say to the Universe, “I’ve earned my accomplishments!”
I can clearly remember, many, many years ago when I was still a kid living my innocence on a farm in central Saskatchewan. It was the middle of the 1930s. The whole country was still agonizing itself through the Great Depression, and effects of that terrible time were present everywhere. But, still, we considered ourselves to be among the lucky ones: we lived on a farm where we raised chickens, ducks, geese, pigs, cows and had two teams of work horses that we used in working the grain fields, so if we had nothing else, we always had plenty to eat. Yes, our mother often had to sew patches over already worn out or torn patches on our clothes, but that was life in those days. Everyone was in the same boat.
Since we lived less than a quarter of a mile from the Canadian National Railway that linked Canada from east to west, we saw a lot of out-of-work Eastern “Railroad Bums” riding the rails to Alberta in search of a better chance at employment. Often thirsty and hungry, many would jump off the moving rail cars and stop at our farm to ask for a handout. Money, of course, was out of the question, since we never had any money ourselves, so we were unable to help anyone else, financially.
But mother always made sure that she had a pot of something on the stove so that our “temporary guests” didn’t leave on an empty stomach, and that usually included packing a tick, double-sliced beef sandwich on fresh, homemade bread to take with them for their remaining journey to a better future.
It’s funny … not like today, in those days, we never treated these “Railroad Bums” with suspicion: that they might want to rob us, or were perverts running from the law. We knew that they were someone’s husband, father, or son, who had the misfortune of being caught up in the Great Depression, and were looking for work–somewhere, anywhere, as long as it provided an income so that they could feed their families. It was our Christian duty to show compassion to those men who were less fortunate than we were.
It was exactly these hard, depressive times that taught our community compassion. But, it was a youthful experience during this depressive hard time that taught me, personally, the difference between showing compassion, and letting a person work out their own destiny in their own time, in their own way, without my interference.
As I said, we had chickens on our farm and it was usually us children’s job to go around to all the chicken’s hiding places around the yard and stables to collect the eggs for the day. Occasionally, the chickens were smarter than we were, and hid their laying nests so well that we didn’t always find them–that is, not until many days later when the hens had brooded their eggs to the point where they began to hatch, and we’d only spot the nests after little chicks were running everywhere.
I recall one particular incident when my younger brother and I were on an egg-gathering mission. We came across a hidden nest where some chicks were already hatched, but other chicks were still in various stages of breaking through their eggshells. My brother and I decided to give these partially hatched chicks a hand by breaking the shells for them, saving them the effort. Unfortunately, this proved a disaster! To our dismay, all the chicks that we tried to help, died while still in their shell! What went wrong? Weren’t we showing compassion?
It wasn’t until many, many years later, and weathering many of the bumps and bruises life has to offer , before I learned that God has a reason for giving us challenges: to break out of our own eggshells on our own, without outside help. He has a reason for making us apply effort to achieve anything worthwhile in life. We need challenges and setbacks in life in order for us to grow, spiritually!
I know of persons where, when everything is just handed to a person born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouth, that person became lazy and self-centred. They often just frit away the business worth that their father had built through his hard work. They often become selfish and uncaring, and before long, they’re spiritually dead, much like those chicks that we tried to help years ago, became physically dead because we tried to give them something for nothing.
There is a reason for trials and shortcomings. They are not punishments from a wrathful or uncaring God. They are there to help one grow: to learn to love: to show compassion, so that I can, eventually, become the god I am meant to become!