Why your life is a gift and does not belong to you alone

fork in the road

This week’s blog focuses on a challenging topic: your life is not your own.

What does this mean, that your life is not your own? Does this mean that we are not free? No. We are indeed free. In fact, we are radically free to accept or reject God for an eternity. We created free to choose Christ! Political, economic, and moral freedom are built upon the idea of religious freedom. We ought to be free in areas of civil law because God has created us to have freedom.

I do not mean by “your life is not your own” that you are a slave. You are certainly not a “slave” to God, in any sense in which that word is understood today. What I mean is that:

-your life comes from an origin other than yourself.
-Your life is going to end sometime, by the choosing of another.
-Your life has value today, regardless of whether you think it does or not. You cannot live your life however you please without any consequence.

Where does your life come from? Well, obviously, your parents had a great deal of cooperation in making you. But the one who designed human reproduction is God. God made us, from the first human down to the newest baby in the world. We remember the argument of the “uncaused cause”. Everything has a cause, right? Either the universe is made up of an infinite amount of causes, or there was a first cause of all that came to be. That first cause would have to be caused by no one – the “uncaused cause”. Make sense? God is what we call the “uncaused cause” that started baby making until the day you were born. But you did not create yourself. Even the constituent parts of “test tube babies” are themselves created before combined in a lab. No way around it.

Your life is going to end sometime. We don’t really know when we are going to die. It is at a time and place of God’s choosing. The manner of our death is in God’s hands as well. This is an inevitable fact of life. One may try to bring up the idea of murder or taking one’s own life as examples of how our death is in our own hands. With no real intention of being crude, these things only speed up what will eventually happen. They do not eliminate the inevitability of death. There are some scientists who are trying to manipulate human cells to prevent death. It will be interesting to see how far they progress in this pursuit, but I think that smart money is on inevitable death.

Your life has value, regardless of how you act or what you believe. This is the harder statement for me to support. This was an easier case to make 100 years ago, but many offenses against human dignity have eroded our understanding of human dignity. If we are created by an “uncaused cause” then we are created with certain ends. In other words, when we perform an action, it is with a certain result in mind. If something acted upon us, it was for a reason. When we act, it is for a reason. The most important reason that guides our actions is the value of our lives. We want to live. We act so that we can live. Each person has an equal dignity, and has an equal right to life. Nothing you do to cheapen your own life, or act in a mindless fashion, can change this fact.

I write about these things not to depress you. Rather, I write about these things to encourage you! God loves you very much! He brought about your birth. He created you to have a purpose in life. He gave you the ability and freedom to find that purpose in life. He has given you the grace and talent to develop your life to its fullest, holiest potential. God will call you home in death one day. But God has prepared for you a “heavenly mansion.” What is waiting for us in heaven is not lame. God does great work! Just look in the mirror and see! God has something wonderful, yet mysterious, waiting for you. We even catch glimpses of it here in this life.

Yes, your life belongs to God, and not to you. Or we could say that your life is a gift to you! Who owns the gift of your life more than you? It is not as if you created yourself! God has given this life to you. Regarding a vocation, might you consider how God desires you to use this gift? Might you pray and discern God’s voice? (check out my last blog article, July 27, 2014, entitled “How to discern your life’s vocation”). Might you consider your knowledge of church teaching and Scripture? Does it need to grow? Do you know the moral teachings of the Church, and strive to follow them?

This idea is called “stewardship”. You have been given a priceless gift to watch over, tend, and grow. Moreover, we are to tend and watch over each other as well. We are to love each other as we love ourselves. Finally, we are to love our God, and see each other as brothers and sisters in God’s family. This is so much more appealing than viewing life as a battle of “all against all”. That is not how God made us to be. God made us to be good! You are a gift. You have both a responsibility and a joy to tend it well.

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About erievocations

I am a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie, PA. I am an Assistant Vocations Director, tasked with the promotion of seminary recruitment. My blog deals with discernment of vocations, especially to the priesthood, as well as our universal call to be holy.
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