The “What Then?” Test?

Riches are not forever.

by Joanie Yoder

Mula sa ikalabing-anim na dantaon (1600s) ay isang kwento ng isang usapan sa pagitan ng isang ambisyosong lalaki at isang debotong Cristianong si St. Philip Neri. Sabi sa kanya ng kabataan, excited, “Sa wakas, umayon na rin sina papa at mama na mag-aral ako ng Law!” “’Tapos ano?” simpleng tanong ni Philip.

Sumagot siya, “’Tapos ay magiging abogado ako!” “At pagkatapos?” tanong pa muli ni Philip. “Pagkatapos ay makakaipon na ako ng maraming-maraming pera, bibili ng magandang bahay, kukuha ng karwahe at mga kabayo, ikakasal sa isang magandang babae, at mamuno ng isang masayang buhay!” sagot niya.

Muli ay nagtanong si Philip, “At pagkatapos?” “Pagkatapos…” Sa unang pagkakataon ay napaisip siya tungkol sa kamatayan at walang-hanggan. Kanyang napagtanto na hindi niya isinasama ang Diyos sa kanyang mga plano at binubuo lamang niya ang kanyang buhay sa pansumandaling mga mahahalagang bagay.

Ang punto ng kwentong ito ay hindi na ang kayamanan ay mali. Ngunit kung ito ang ating nagiging pangunahing layunin, ating binabalewala ang walang-hanggan at nagtitiwala na sa pera, hindi sa Diyos. Sinabi ni Jesus na imposible na mahalin nang sabay ang pera at Diyos (Matthew 6:24), at nagbabala Siya, “Huwag magtipon para sa iyong sarili ng mga kayamanan sa ibabaw ng lupa, … kundi magtipon para sa inyong sarili ng mga kayamanan sa Langit” (vv. 19-20).

Ang bata at matanda ay kailangan na gumawa ng mga importanteng plano sa buhay. Ngunit lagi nating isaisip ang walang-hanggan sa pamamagitan ng pagsubok ng mga ito sa “what then?” test.

Ang totoong sukat ng ating kayamanan ay ang kayamanang mayroon tayo sa Langit.

 

From Our Daily Bread®, July 6, 2004.

 

The Cross-Bridge Stories: “The Greatest New Year’s Resolution”

I will change this new year.” Yester proclaimed to himself after writing a list of New Year’s resolutions. “I will now stop drinking, smoking, quarrelling with my wife, gossiping and … anything bad!” He smiled to himself, and then put the list in his private memo. After that he left his room and went into the kitchen where his wife Lorrie and kids were waiting for their Media Noche.

“What did take you so long?” his wife asked in an odd tone. “I and the kids are waiting, and it seemed you don’t care!”

She’s beginning again, he thought. “I’m sorry, Honey,” he said patiently with all his strength just to follow his resolution – ‘Don’t quarrel with my wife.’

“Don’t call me ‘Honey’!” she yelled.

He unwarily lost his patience. “OK, I’m sorry, you Monster!” he shouted then sat on the seat where his plate was.

“You are the Monster, you –“

He stood again in anger. “You what? Before you look at what I’m saying, look at your rotten words first!!!”

“Mommy, Daddy, please stop!” Mollie his daughter pleaded, caressing her crying little brother. “When will you stop yelling with each other? Until one of you dies?!” Yester, being guilty of what he’d done, left the kitchen, went to his car and drove away.

Nothing changed, he thought. And if one of my resolutions didn’t work, neither would the others.  Frustrated, he went into his office. He was a manager of a certain printing press and could there any time. He felt he needed a break.

As he got into the building, he was surprised to see one of his co-workers there, Ferdinand, typing something in the computer. “Got a problem at home, too?” he asked.

“No, all is well at home,” Ferdinand replied, smiling. “You have?”

He felt ashamed. “Yeah.”

“Let me show you something in here,” he called.

“What’s it?”

“A Bible.”

“Oh, don’t talk to me about that again,” he refused. “It can’t solve my problem.”

“The Bible alone can’t solve your problem, but God can,” he said. “You know, you can have so many New Year’s resolutions in life but without God, all those are nothing.”

“What do you mean?”

“Are you going to heaven when you die?”

“Ah … What do you mean?” he asked, confused about Ferdinand’s question. When he expected an explanation, none came. “Well, ah, I don’t know really.”

“You know Yester, Jesus died for your sins and mine, and if we accepted Him as our Lord and Savior, our life would be changed. Not that your wife would not yell at you anymore, or you would have a happy home at last, but what I’m saying is you would be changed. She may be impatient but you, you now have Jesus who will help you to be patient, loving, and understanding. And you know, this Bible knows how you could do it.

“This could be the greatest resolution you could make – be saved.”

The Cross-Bridge Stories: Why Do I Live?

“No, I don’t want to hear about that this time, OK,” Yester told him. He was really irritated every time Ferdinand brought this subject up—about his destiny the next life. “Please don’t tell me about that Heaven or Hell stuff, OK? All I have to do now is fix my family problem, and nothing else.”

“But you’re focusing on less-important matters than what is really important, Yester,” he replied with the sound of sadness in his voice. “By the way, I would be going, because I have something to do with my family. Bye—ah, wait, think about this Yester. I think you really don’t know the real purpose of life.” he disappeared out of his sight.

When he got home nothing had changed. He got to the office to be alone, but that Ferdinand disturbed him. So his mind was still full of matters unsettled.

He found Cindy his wife sleeping at their room. He didn’t know what to do, if he would go inside or remain at the living room. He decided not to go. He sat back at one of the sofas. He closed his eyes. Suddenly all what that man—Ferdinand—said, which was no boggling his mind.

He then felt his daughter Mollie against his body.  She was still awake. “Daddy, sorry for talking to both of you like that. Promise I will do that again.”

“It’s my fault, darling,” Yester comforted his daughter. “I shouldn’t have yelled a your mother at first.” He hugged her tightly.

“Dad, why do you live?” she asked. Secretly, it shocked him. He was never asked things about the purpose of life before. But he answered calmly, “Of course, ah, to care for you. For Justin, and for your Mom.”

“That’s your purpose, Dad, to care for us?” she asked quizzically. “How about when you were young? When we weren’t still born, and you haven’t met Mom?”

“Ah, … to be a responsible person, Mollie,” words almost left him. In fact, if her daughter would ask more, he couldn’t answer it anymore.

“Ah…” her daughter, seemed satisfied, rested on her shoulders. To his relief, she never asked further questions. A minute later, Mollie fell asleep.

After laying her at her brother’s bed, he changed his clothes, and went for a walk at the park. It was January 1, so he had no office work. As he walked, he saw an old man walking idly. What is the purpose of this man’s life? His purposes were not applicable to this man. Even him at that situation could not say what would be his life’s purpose.

Then he saw a child. The boy was giving his goodbye to his grandparents who he and his parents were visiting probably for New Year. To study well, he thought. What after? Well, study is continuous. Be he wasn’t himself convinced.

“I think you really don’t know the real purpose of life.” “Yeah,” Yester said to himself, “and so what?!” Then he realize that it would be better for him to die if he had no purpose.

His supposed exercise this morning was cancelled. He ran back home and saw that it was six AM. He wasn’t tired and he couldn’t sleep so he went into his books and found a book of sayings. He turned into the index and looked for the topic “index.”  Then he turned to the page and saw a proverb by an atheist, Bertrand Russell. It read, “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.”

“A God,” he repeated.

“Are you going to Heaven when you die?” he remembered what Ferdinand said.

Am I going to heaven when I die? he questioned himself. What is my life’s purpose?