When in my twenties, I marveled at the way retired men used their time. In the typical short-sightedness of my youth, I thought of the things I would do if I had their flexible time and opportunities. I never had time or opportunity to do things I dreamed of doing. They (from my perspective) had the time I never had--and the flexibility to use time as they chose! Now I understand realities I never considered in my twenties.

Everyone occasionally thinks about "what I would do if ..." Some think of it as they look at their past. "If I had it to do over again, I would ..." Some think of it as they attempt to see into the future. "If I ever have the opportunity, I will ..." All of us are victims of the deception that "just right" decisions, opportunities, and choices produce the "ideal life." "It is there! I just have to open the door!"

Some think wealth is the key. Some think the key is lifestyle. Others think pleasure, or self-indulgence, or a specific physical body is the key. Every teen, every man, every woman decides a key exists (for him or her) and decides (for him or her) what that key is.

A person enters adult life thinking there is one key. He or she expects to pursue (and acquire?) "ideal life" with one key. He or she does not live adult life long before one key becomes two, two keys become three, and a few keys become a key ring filled with keys.

You question that fact? The key at sixteen and twenty-five are not the same. Twenty-five's key is not fifty's key, and fifty's key is not seventy's key. We Americans collect keys. We just add new keys to our key ring.

The key to "ideal life" is not wealth, or lifestyle, or pleasure, or self-indulgence, or physical attributes (skin tone, physique, physical presentation, weight, or sexual magnetism). The "ideal life" does not even exist in the context of this life. The key to acquiring the "ideal life" is God. That is the point of the lives of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah, Peter, Paul, and John. Jesus revealed "ideal life" because he opened our access to God, the key.

Jesus declared, (Matthew 6:25) For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Life is more than survival (even if we live well). When we meet God (and we will!), may we feel no need to think, "If I had known ..."

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 5 May 2002

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