September 06, 2019 | Articles by Rev. David Bodanza
Two salesmen were sent to a foreign island to sell shoes. After a while, the first shoe salesman wrote back to his company: "Business is terrible, nobody wears shoes down here." Then the second shoe salesman wrote back: "Business is terrific, everybody needs shoes down here." It was the same situation, but each man had a different perspective. They saw things differently. What do shoes have to do with religion? Well, we are talking about souls (not soles)!
Many people in our area are living without hope. It is becoming more difficult to survive. Relationships are fragile and it is hard to stay together. Everything is becoming more expensive and yet our income is either stagnant or decreasing. Many struggle with depression, fear, despair, boredom and apathy. We feel that there is no hope. We think that things will never change for the better. We had hoped better for our children, but things are even worse.
Too many people turn to drugs and alcohol for escape from the pain of hopelessness. They want to change something about their lives. It just makes things worse. The news reports tell us that, since January of this year alone, there have been more than 123 heroin overdoses and seven deaths in Taunton alone. In less than the last three months in Massachusetts, there have been 185 deaths due to heroin overdoses. According to the U.S. Center of Disease Control and Prevention, prescription drug and heroin fatalities in the U.S. have surpassed homicide and traffic deaths. In 2010, more than 16,600 Americans died from prescription painkillers and about 3,000 died from heroin.
What is the root of the problem? Where is the hope? We try to treat the symptoms but never seem to delve deep into the cure. The cycle just continues on a downward spiral. Albert Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Our society is insane. As the opening story illustrates, we don't wear shoes. Like the first salesman, we therefore conclude that we don't need them. We live without reference to God, and therefore conclude we don't need him.
Man cannot live without God. Say that again? Mark God's words: Man cannot live without God. Ask yourself a question, can you live without God? If you answered "yes, I've been doing it for years," how is that been going? Is there something or Someone missing in your life? If you say no, what will your future be without God? What will happen the moment you breathe your last breath? What will occur the moment your heart beats its last beat? You can be sure that people at your wake will be comforting themselves, saying such things as "He's in a better place now." Will you be? How do they know? They will say, "He's not suffering, he's at peace." How can they be so sure? They may even say, "His problems are over." Maybe they are just beginning.
God has created each one of us, whether we care to admit it or not. Our days are numbered by God. Each one of us will live as long as God ordains. There is more to life than meets the eye. The physical dimension is not all there is. Jesus stresses this point when He says, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Not bread (the physical) but God’s Word (the spiritual) keeps us alive. It is useless for us to search within ourselves for hope or the cure to all our miseries. We can only find life and true fulfillment when we acknowledge God.
Jesus once told this parable, "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." ' "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself ?' "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:16–21)
We are all naturally inclined to store things up for ourselves. We concern ourselves with material things. Life becomes a quest to get money and things, often to the injury of our health, relationships and our very souls. Few are "rich toward God." Few are concerned about whether they have a healthy relationship with the Lord of all. Many do not consider that they are neglecting the very One that will heal their deep pain. Jesus says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)
Are you taking care of your soul? Or more importantly, have you come to Jesus to take care of your soul? Jesus asks, "What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" (Mark 8:36) The answer to that question should be obvious, but it is all too often left unanswered by those who neglect to do some honest soul-searching.
Do you remember that plastic, hollow, ball toy with the different cutout shapes that you had as a child? You know the one that came with several yellow pieces in a variety of shapes. The object of the game was to insert the correct cutout shape through the correct hole to get inside of the plastic ball. Once you were finished, you pulled the hollow shell apart to empty the pieces and start over. It was the toy that taught you about shapes. Invariably, there would be a frustrated toddler who was trying to bang a square peg through a round hole. It didn't work and it would make many a child angry or sad.
Trying to live without God is like trying to bang a square peg into a round hole. It will take a lot of effort but it is frustrating, unworkable and it will leave you angry or sad. Man cannot live without God.
Saint Augustine engaged in a series of desperate searches for fulfillment without God: excessive pleasure, false religions, philosophy, drunkenness and the like. He came to realize that they were all frustrating and futile. When he finally came to Christ, he realized what you and I need to realize and remember: "O, Lord, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they rest in you.”