Warning: This next question is really deep. What is your goal in life? Rather ambiguous huh? Perhaps I should phrase it more like this: Every story has an end; but what kind of ending do you envision for yours? Everyone has goals, but what is your ultimate goal?
In my day-to-day life, I often find myself having the subconscious thought “After this [insert life calamity of choice] I will be happy/content.” Then of course when [said calamity] is finally over another problem comes. Then I again think, “After this …then I will be happy/content.” Of course we all fight a losing battle thinking this way. We live in a fallen world, which means there will always be problems. Stuff breaks. Plans fail. People are people. We find ourselves just wanting to fast forward to the good parts in life skipping past the bad things.
In The Book of Virtues by William Bennett, there is a story called The Magic Thread. It tells the story of Peter who is always wishing life would go faster. One day he meets the stereotypical old crone in the woods who offers him a magic ball of thread. When the thread is pulled out it makes time go by faster, but time can’t be reversed; the thread cannot be put back. Peter, of course, uses the ball to speed through school, work, war, all the bad times in life he doesn’t enjoy. In the end, Peter is an old man who looks back at his life and feels empty. He says, "I have never had to suffer or wait for anything in my life. And yet it has all passed so quickly. I feel that I have had no time to take in what has happened to me, neither the good things nor the bad. Now there is so little time left.” In the end, Peter runs into the old woman again and chooses to go back and live his life over the correct way: at its regular pace, good and bad included.
How often are we like Peter: constantly looking forward to the next big thing, getting past the bad, and not focusing on the here and now? When you reach the end of your life and look back on the past, will you be content with how you spent your time? Will you be able to say you followed God through the good and the bad, or will you look back and realize that you spent so much time focusing on the future that your past was irrelevant?
Still not sure what your ultimate goal in life is? I have a suggestion for you: contentment. It can be simultaneously a daily goal and an ultimate life goal. How do we achieve contentment? By following Christ. Job 36:11 says "If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment.”
Contentment. It beats a magic thread any day.