As I lay in bed last night suffering from insomnia again, I was struck by how many pinpoints of light I could see from my bed. The tower fan emits a faint green glow. The TV has a bright red light. The DVR was silently engaging in its job, indicated by a faint orange light. The refrigerator, visible when I sat up trying to get comfortable, positively radiated blue LED light. The light which gives me the most security, the red light indicating that the house alarm was armed, reassures me every night, even though without my contacts on all I can see is a red haze.
I couldn't help but focus on the fact that the most important light in my life is not visible in the dark at all. Jesus said, "I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life." (John 8:12). While I believe this with all of my heart, I sometimes wish that the light was a little more visible, especially in the dark - both metaphorical and real. The rest of the lights that rule my nights are intrusive, serving to remind me of all of the things that distract all of us from our true purpose here on Earth. After all, the Baltimore Catechism teaches even the youngest Catholics the reason for their existence: "Why did God make me? To know, love, and serve Him in this world and be happy with him in the next."
I've always been struck by the fact that nowhere in that answer does it say that we are here to be happy in this life. People who chase happiness in this life are sure to be thwarted. That's not to say, of course, that we can't find happiness in this life: Jesus wants us to be happy! It is not the goal, however. A life lived happily, if not in service to God, can't have a happily ever after, after all. That's one of the major problems of modernity: the inability to delay gratification. It's hard to look to the hereafter when we are all so used to being able to satisfy any desire NOW. Why should attempting to satisfy the goal of happiness be any different, then?
I don't think it's any accident that church attendance and belief in God have declined steadily in the past century. I have little doubt that I could graph the rise of technology alongside the decline in belief and find a nearly perfect inverse relationship. Of course, I, of all people, know that congruence does not equal causation, but there is certainly food for thought in the project.
I have many more ideas on this subject, but my attention is distracted by other things. One of my clients wants his press release NOW. I have to research the concept using the Internet, which I can do immediately. I am helping with our homeschool group's spelling bee, so I need to print off the word list momentarily. My children need breakfast which I will serve them from a box - a meal which will take me no longer to prepare than the time I need to take clean bowls out of my brand-new dishwasher, which so obligingly did my chores for me last night while I was asleep.
How do we balance our love of life's conveniences and instant gratification with living the life Jesus meant us to live? I'm still trying to figure it out.