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Escaping the Illusive Dream

The world tells us that success is measured by the size of our paycheck, the mansion that we live in, the make of our car, the country clubs we belong to, and the number of diplomas and degrees that are listed behind our name. Every day we are barraged by the images from the media selling us the promise of happiness if we buy this or that product.

A successful person is often portrayed as terribly busy, working hard to accomplish great things. The rich and famous are displayed on the front of glossy magazines, and featured on TV. Best selling books and popular conferences attract participants by claiming to reveal secret formulas for making more money, and becoming a success.

No one is exempt from such an onslaught of ideas and influences. Look around you and you'll see a similar phenomenon. Our prayers are often centered around careers, children's studies, children's admission to choice schools, or relocating to a new country.

Over time, we become hypnotized by popular images of success. When we are caught in this trance, we find ourselves unable to stop. Our minds echo, "I have to keep working because there are bills to pay. I have to buy faster computers and more expensive phones to get more done so that I can make more money to pay the bills for the things I need to buy to help me get these things done..." We are trapped in a vicious cycle trying frantically to surpass our limitations and circumvent our inabilities.

As a result, qualities that can only be nourished by time, care, and attention, such as honesty, courage, kindness, civility, wisdom, and compassion are being traded for the pursuit of success defined by money, status, and material comfort.

Christain author Wayne Muller in his book entitled Sabbath puts it aptly, "We are seduced into a trance, a pleasant illusion, one which we willingly submit ourselves whenever and wherever we are." How can we escape this illusion? Here are two suggestions:

Take time to rest and be quiet.
Ecclesiastes 4:6 "Better is one hand full of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind." The invitation to quietness allows all things to settle, to find their place. There comes a moment in our striving when our efforts actually become counterproductive, and our 'busyness' distorts our wisdom and understanding. When we become still and allow our life to rest, we feel a fresh renewal of energy and a gradual clarity of perception.

Live with a perspective of eternity.
Ecclesiastes 12;13-14 "Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do."

We will benefit greatly by taking time daily to be alone with Christ, to nurture our relationship with Him, and to renew the confidence that He desires the best for us.We should remind ourselves constantly that He is for us, and is infinitely capable of fulfilling His purpose in our lives. We can then see that in spite of our limitations, God can still use us.

Even more importantly, through walking closely with Christ, we open ourselves to His inspiration, and to what Paul terms ' the mind of Christ' in our lives ( 1 Cor. 2:16). This will help us see beyond our limitations to our true potential, and to find the courage to move forward.

Be encouraged.

************************Letter # 42 (24.11.2002)****************
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