If I told you that we each have the opportunity to reap the rewards of a secret bank account kept aside for us since we were born, would you believe me? This account holds the greatest treasure we could ever wish for.
“Where do I sign up?” you might ask? I will come back to this later.
A few months ago a long-time friend and former colleague died after a short illness. I can remember hearing the fear, anxiety, and pain in his voice when he told me about his diagnosis and his upcoming treatment. I reassured him that everything would be okay, and that he would be with his family. By the end of the conversation he sounded happier, especially when talking about his little grandchild and one on the way. Neither of us realised that it would be the last time we would hear each other’s voice.
We continued to correspond via email, but the time came when I did not receive his response to my latest email for a while, and I grew uneasy.
The day I read the message from a family member advising of his death, I felt gutted. It is amazing how the mind instantly flashes back to the moments and memories we keep about a person. The times shared with another are stored within us and are never lost, fluttering back at us like the pages of a book in the wind.
I did not remember him for the work he did when he sat alongside me for years. I did not remember him for his job title. I did not remember him for his work output or efficiency.
I remembered him because we had known each other for almost twenty years, including long after I had left our workplace. I remembered him because of his quirky sense of humour and the little everyday life topics we would talk about over the phone. I remembered him because he was funny and made me laugh. I remembered him because he was a faithful, humble, and simple person – we got along so easily even though we were at completely opposite ends in age, culture, and life experience. In short, I remembered him for his love-in-friendship, and for the person that he was and still is, now with God.
Everything in life has an end. It is not about completing that special project or securing that house, car, promotion, or other desired outcome. It is not even about death itself.
The end which we are all aiming for in this life is love. For many of us this realisation does not come home to us until we experience the death of another, or face our own.
Many go about finding love in the wrong ways – grasping and grabbing onto what we desire though disordered behaviours or attachments – drowning in addictions, pushing and tussling our way through life, fixing our minds on material things, or engaging in other misdirected activities. But these things will ever and always leave us empty. They will only lead us to sorrow and darkness.
Our waking and our work. Our eating and our living. Our striving for health and wellbeing. Our prayers and petitions. Our desire for more, better, stronger, bigger, and higher. Our moving and our being. All of it. Everything we do is because – at the very core – we are looking for something more. We want to know that we matter and meant something when we are gone. We do not want to be forgotten. We want to know that there was a reason we were born. We are looking for love itself.
We human beings are needy creatures. We grow up, but in reality are always children, wanting attention and affection. So how do we find this love? Why does it seem so elusive and fleeting if we do experience it? And how can we hold onto it?
The only way to find true love is to look to the Source and definition of love. God. God is love. You’ve heard it so many times before haven’t you? In the Holy Bible, in music, in books, during homilies, etc. The truth is worth repeating, over and over again.
Have you ever seen a child put their hand into a jar to retrieve sweets at the very bottom? A fist filled with lollies is difficult, if not impossible, to remove from the jar again. It is only when the lollies are let go that the hand can be released and the sweets are instead emptied onto a table for the full reward to be claimed.
Love is a bit like this. Instead of going all in, fist-first, grabbing and pushing, we have to empty love out of ourselves, let it pour forth into the world, and then we will find it coming back to us. We can surrender ourselves to God, let go of our striving, and instead give love away. This is the antithesis of everything society teaches us as we grow up. Our lifestyle and culture is about competing, getting our piece of the pie, and asking “what’s in it for me?”.
But God is our true example. He gave up His one and only Son and let Him go. Out upon a manger in a cold and poor stable. Out amongst the feeble and needy crowds. Out to heal the sick, cure the blind, and raise the dead. Out upon a torturous cross where He finally surrendered His Spirit – the ultimate act of love for us.
Remember the secret bank account I referred to in the beginning? You see, it is not really such a great secret.
In primary school I had a beginner’s bank account set up in my name. I felt like a grown-up. Little by little tiny deposits were made into my baby account. Gradually over the years the account grew and was used to fund my school needs and other bits and pieces. It taught me about good saving practices, how to budget money, and eventually (when I started working) to patiently save up for something I wanted to buy or to help my family with.
Likewise every tiny act of love on earth is deposited into our ‘love account’ in heaven. It builds up every time we choose to be kind, gracious, patient, friendly, and pure. Whenever we surrender our tendencies to anger, hate, fear, and evil, and replace them with loving options, it accumulates even more. When we invest our time wisely and lovingly on earth, we are adding to the treasure of love being kept for us and which will be returned to us with interest in heaven. Instead of a mountain of money we will find an even greater reward – God Himself standing there as Love in its purest form, waiting to greet us home.
Let us not allow our love accounts to be empty at the end of our lives. It is never too late to sign up. We can ask God to help us by giving us wisdom and inspiration to think of ways we can bring more love into our lives, our communities, our world, and every person we encounter.
One tiny act. One baby step. One little love move on your part is the greatest investment you’ll ever make in a world that desperately needs it.