You might think a man not reasonable when he seemingly gives up on a respectable career after investing over ten years of schooling, work, and experience in said profession. You may paint that man a desperate fool when he devotes his life to a God he has never seen after suffering from countless setbacks, failed plans, and a deep and painful personal loss. And you might seem right to color him crazy when he makes it a priority in his life to tell others to do the same. Call me unreasonable, call me a desperate fool, and, if you like, call me crazy, but if you are judging me solely based on the qualifications I stated above, then you may very well be the one who is the fool. I had not come to these revelations lightly. There is a method to my madness and I would contend that I am doing the right and reasonable thing. I do not speak with arrogance or contempt, but with a love and a hope that you would be willing to open your mind and soften your heart to what I, and my not-so-invisible God, have to say to you.
Congratulations! Through the generosity and grace of God, you are the new owner of a villa in the small town of Cortona in Tuscany, Italy. The villa is quite lovely yet is in the state of some much-needed repairs. But hey, you can put up with those little annoyances. Anything is better than going back to your gloomy, empty apartment in San Francisco, which only serves to remind you of your failed life from the past. This is the start of your new life filled with new hopes and dreams and possibilities. You’re walking one day on the side of the road along the outskirts of town when you notice a neighbor’s vineyard. You are surprised to find it completely overgrown with thistles; its surface covered with nettles; and its stone wall broken down. What you could have only imagined was once a field of promise and budding life, now a wasteland of broken dreams. How would you feel in this situation? Would you see the affect of ruin slothfulness has? Would you see how it could affect adversely your new life as well if you are not careful? Or would you just go and gossip about it with your new neighbors? Wasn’t that how you were in your old life?
How does this story really end? Well, I don’t want to spoil it for everyone, so you’ll have to rent Under the Tuscan Sun to see for yourself. Well honestly, I don’t really remember how it ended myself. The vineyard scene, though so crucial and meaningful, might not have happened either. The reason I included it is because I think it speaks a wisdom that is true to life and is instrumental in you coming face to face with the Truth whether you want to or not.
So let me ask you: when you pass by this desolate vineyard, does it tell you something about life? I think it should. Life has so many stories to tell, yet we are so concentrated on our own story that we often miss out on something so priceless and essential like this. In life, we have two teachers: wisdom and consequence. Wisdom is gained through other people’s knowledge and experience, and consequence is something you’ve learned the hard way of experiencing it painfully for yourself. I think it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyways: pain is no fun; seek wisdom.
There are two lessons that I’ve ascertained from my encounter with the vineyard: (1) look at life with a discerning eye in order to discover truth and wisdom, and (2) do not succumb to slothfulness when you have work and responsibilities to act upon. There is something in these two lessons that rings true to me. And without them, I’m not so sure where I’d be today.
In all honesty, I consider myself a rather ignorant person. I say and do a lot of stupid, foolish things that I’m sure make me an embarrassment to not only myself but to God, and I do Him a great disservice whenever I try to speak in public. I don’t even know what to say more than half the time when I’m in a conversation and when I do, my words often get in the way of my true intent. There is a lot that I do not know yet and so much of it I will never know in this lifetime. Each of us wants to make sense of something that's so much bigger than us whether it's through science, evolution, aliens, God, many gods or none at all. But there is just something that makes sense to me, and I hope you too, that if we simply look at the world around us, we can see the reality of God in this world.
The world we were born into is something many people take for granted. This world certainly does not belong to us, but we seem to think we’re born with some kind of entitlement to do whatever we choose on it and with it. “Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but [we] humans do not.” The problem with this is that we don’t appreciate what a miracle life here really is. It somehow sustains our life and only under these specific circumstances would life here be possible. If the universe’s rate of expansion were greater or lesser by even one part in a million, it would have ruled out the possibility of life altogether. If the ratio of carbon to oxygen had been slightly different than it is, none of us could breathe the air. If the earth’s size, tilt, rotation speed, distance from the sun, etc. – if any of these variables were in any other configuration than it currently is in, life on this planet would not inhabitable. It doesn’t make any sense how any of this could just come about by accident – it’s too perfect. Its design is just too intelligent to have been something that was made by chance.
I believe in what I believe and I believe it can be found in the God of the Old and New Testament because no other religion is so heavily supported by historical facts and no other religion has impacted my life in such real ways. I see God working in my life and I see how God worked in other people’s lives through the Bible and through their own personal testimonies. The places/events the Bible talks about are real; Christ was really crucified. Eyewitnesses saw it and made records of it. And they saw him rise as well.
Religions make their own beliefs and assumptions from the truth. Atheists seem to ignore certain bits history and mathematical fact. The Jewish refuse to see Jesus as nothing more than a teacher. Mormons and Muslims recognize Jesus’ existence, but choose to focus their beliefs elsewhere. Even some Christian religions emphasize certain ideas or practices over others. But people can be fickle. They can change their minds, their beliefs to custom-fit their lives comfortably. God’s not fickle and His Word is never changing. God did not come to earth to create another religion, but to bridge the gap created by our sin – it’s all our doing that created all of this religiosity and rules. What’s important is not to build our own belief system, but to seek the truth because there’s so much to it than getting a sense of purpose or security – you’ll get that, of course, but also so much more.
If you feel ill about ‘religion,’ you have a right to be. There is no truth in religious customs or practices. Idols and rituals hold no true power. And if we try to do things solely on our power, we will fail. Maybe you feel like you've searched you're soul, and that in your mind you're satisfied with your conclusions. But I say never close your mind. This is not something to be lazy about or blind to. Do not rest on your laurels and your current beliefs and/or disbeliefs – just because it may have worked in the past, it does not mean it will sustain in every case you come across. I have my own conclusions, but I will never stop seeking and I will never stop learning… not if I can help it. All I’m asking you is to do the same. Never turn the focus on yourself; always looks at the bigger picture. Never stop learning; never be satisfied with what you know. As long as you are alive, you are not done living yet – you have a responsibility to seek the truth. In the meantime try to at least ask yourself these questions: Is your version of the truth actually true if you’re not seeing the whole picture? Is a life lived not knowing the whole truth a life worth living? Is it worth searching a lifetime if you possibly have an eternity to gain?