"Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you." (Psalm 73:25, NIV)
By Bishop Robert Hayes Jr.
Every year businesses of every size and description conduct what is commonly called inventory. People who have been assigned this task will tell you that the complete cataloging of all materials is a painstaking process.
In these first days of the new year, consider that word inventory from a Christian perspective. When I did, I quickly concluded that businesses find value in identifying the aggregate worth of their goods — and their process provides a model for you and me. Should there not also be a "spiritual inventory" that details what we own in relationship to God and our faith?
Surely the beginning of a year invites us to take stock of our beliefs and make a declaration of the importance of God in our lives!
When I completed my sophomore year in college, The Methodist Church sent me (and 21 other students) to Europe and Russia for several months. As we crossed from one country into the next, we encountered serious-minded customs clerks at every border. They uttered only one line: "Have you anything to declare?"
Today’s article is my declaration of my absolute and utter dependence on the God I serve!
As I attempt to tally the value of my life’s experiences, I quickly arrive at the bottom line: Without God in my life, all meaning, value, and hope would be gone. God is the One who holds my life together. Without God, I would be lost.
As he closed his prayer, a 10-year-old boy uttered, "And please, God, look after yourself, because if anything happens to you, we’re all sunk!"
It may surprise you, but the little lad and psalmist were on the same page. Child and author alike were struck by the outright necessity of God.
What would happen if we took God out of our world?
The very first thing, I believe, is all goodness would vanish from life. People often generalize about the bad in the world. But if God did not exist, if we did not have Someone/Something (God) to have faith in, there would be no moral compass for living.
We have seen what happens when nations and individuals eliminate God. Gates open into concentration camps; life is devalued; the human spirit is seen as something to be broken. Innocent children are taken away when visited by evil in the quiet of a schoolroom.
Secondly, if we did not have God in our lives there would be no meaning in living — life would begin in nothingness and end in nothingness! Granted, at times it is so difficult for us to see any purpose, especially when things happen that we cannot and do not understand. But because we believe in God, deep within us we hold onto hope, assured there is a reason, an explanation that will make our living tolerable and purposeful.
And lastly, if we did not have God, all our help would be gone from the world.
John Buchan wrote, "An atheist is a person with no invisible means of support." Somehow Buchan knew that if God was eliminated the invisible presence of the One who sustains, strengthens, and heals would not exist.
As I inventory the many times I have made it safely through difficult and dire situations, I know it was God who brought me through them!
I have witnessed for myself God’s presence in the operating room when the doctors reached the limits of their skills and God took over.
I have heard God singing the refrain when, after losing someone I love, I’ve sung songs of deep pain into the night. Somehow, God has turned those songs into anthems of joy in my heart.
What have I to declare? With the child and the psalmist I declare that, in the changing of the seasons and the ever-evolving years of my life, I have none in heaven but God, and there is nothing on earth I desire more than God!
"O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come;
Our shelter from the stormy blast and our eternal home.
A thousand ages in Thy sight are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night before the rising sun."
(Isaac Watts, 1674-1748)