Where are we going?


Cornelius Vanderbilt in his day was one of the richest men on earth. One day, walking through the woods, he got lost. He was worried over a lot of problems in his life — problems in his business, problems in his family life, problems in his heart.

Not paying any attention to where he was going, he got lost. Totally disoriented, he didn’t know what to do. Finally, in desperation he just sat down, leaned back against a tree, closed his eyes and went to sleep.

He woke up a little while later as he felt someone’s foot kicking his. Opening his eyes, he looked up. Before him was a big bear of a man with a big black beard looking down at him. The man said, “Who are you and where are you going?”

Later, remembering that moment, Cornelius Vanderbilt said, “As soon as I figured out he wasn’t a bear, those two questions were like ice water in my mind, clearing my thoughts in a most amazing way. They had not been so cleared for weeks and months.

“Right then and there I offered that forest ranger a job. He wouldn’t take it, but I offered him a job doing nothing but moving back to the city and waking me up every morning with those same two questions: ‘Who are you?’ and ‘Where are you going?’”

There is a lesson there for all of us I think. If we will take time every day to pray and read God’s word, we will be asking those same two questions, “Who am I?” and “Where am I going?” And if Jesus Christ is the Lord and leader of our lives, the answer is, “We belong to him, not to the world, and we are going to heaven.” Not because we are so good, but because God is so faithful.

As we remember that every day, it can help us keep our perspective in this world, remembering that all we experience through the day is not final, but just the preparation for the life that God is going to give us.

So fortified, we can look through the lie of worldly wealth, see it for what it is and begin using it to build up real wealth where it counts.

In the Gospel of Luke there is a parable that Jesus told which speaks to this issue. It is about a certain steward who looked into the future, saw what was in store for him and decided to use his money to change that future and make it secure.

May God grant us that kind of wisdom. Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he was senior minister for 23 years before retiring. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.

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2012-05-03 digital edition

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