這一生你想要甚麼?──WHAT DO YOU WANT IN LIFE

cbmc_20190923

有人問過你「這一生你想要什麼」嗎?通常這個問題的回答就是你最重視的東西。五十多年來,我看過很多企業人士的回應是沉迷於自已專業領域的成功。有些人甚至僅會為個人的利益祈禱。

我認為想要成功並沒有錯,但相信上帝希望我們的禱告不只是為了自己,也是為了其他人的需要以及神國的進展。我認為,在我們還可以為別人做非常多事時,上帝並不會急著實現我們每一個自私的禱告。

有時,我想起上帝如何冷靜地回應情緒悲傷的巴錄(紀錄先知耶利米預言的書記),他為當時猶大國情況感到沮喪並質疑先知耶利米的話。這是上帝通過先知對巴錄,以及想在今生追求特殊待遇的人所說的話:「你要這樣告訴他,耶和華如此說:我所建立的,我必拆毀;我所栽植的,我必拔出;在全地我都如此行。你為自己圖謀大事嗎?不要圖謀!我必使災禍臨到凡有血氣的。但你無論往哪裏去,我必使你以自己的命為掠物。這是耶和華說的。」(耶利米書45章4-5節)

我們必須明白自己並沒有特殊的豁免權。很多人一出生就擁有很多,也有很多人兩手空空而來。但到最後我們都同樣會赤身裸體地離開這個世界。在我生命中有一段時間,我常常為成功和財務回報而祈禱。但在2001年我讀了布魯斯·魏肯生(Bruce Wilkinson)的「雅比斯的禱告」之後,這種情況發生了很大的改變,這讓我意識到自己的禱告生活是多麼膚淺。

這本書源於一段追溯猶大支派血統的經文。一開始就說,「雅比斯比他眾弟兄更尊貴」(歷代志上4章9-10節)。為什麼這個人更尊貴?魏肯生解釋說,雅比斯特別祈求上帝保佑「他」,擴大「他」的領土,不斷地和「他」在一起,不要讓「他」受到傷害,這樣「他」就可以免於痛苦。上帝也回應了「他」的禱告!

從那以後,我就一直用為自己訂制版的雅比斯禱告來祈求。我祈禱說:「主啊,我求「祢」超乎我所預期的祝福我;為「祢」的榮耀擴展我的境界和影響範圍;不斷地把「祢」的恩手放在我身上,阻擋邪惡靠近我,這樣我就不至於痛苦。」我不帶著任何期望繼續這樣祈禱,多年來一直被大大祝福著。當我們祈禱時,最重要的是我們內心的狀態, 比起我們對上帝所說特定的話語重要多了。因祂了解我們的內心,並希望以超乎我們所求所想的祝福我們。

這個禱告有助於定義甚麼是我想要的,但和地上的財富無關。很多祝福當時看起來都不像祝福。但是透過這一切,我和上帝更親近,祂的手一直在我身上。祂擴大了我的疆界和影響範圍,並用我從未想像過的方式使用了我。祂真的超乎期待地祝福我。

我意識到這不是我自己的成就或能耐。最重要的是我知道自己在祂的旨意中,有一天會認識祂,如約翰一書3章2節所說的:「親愛的弟兄啊,我們現在是 神的兒女,將來如何,還未顯明;但我們知道,主若顯現,我們必要像他,因為必得見他的真體。」你這一生想要甚麼?與耶穌的關係是你主要的焦點。
Jim Langley從事人壽健康保險業已經超過30年了。最近幾年,他熱心於將自己與神的關係書 寫出來,目的是要鼓勵其他人更加親近神。他也是CBMC的長期會員,在2014年時,他開始寫作「四分衛策略」(Fourth Quarter Strategies)。

反省與問題討論

  1. 假如有人看著你的眼睛問:「你這一生想要什麼?你這一生真正希望得到的是甚麼?」你會如何回答?
  2. 如果你為自己的工作禱告,你有沒有為成功和成就禱告?如果有,是用什麼方式?這些禱告的回應是什麼?請解釋你的答案。
  3. 你覺得為什麼在舊約聖經中會出現雅比斯的禱告,強調一個不起眼的人為自己的祝福禱告?的確有些人會熱衷地向上帝提出這樣的要求,但其他人卻認為這樣做是不合適的。對此你有甚麼看法?解釋你的答案。
  4. 你覺得如何看待雅比斯的禱告,會影響一個人一生想要甚麼的看法嗎?如果你要個人化這個禱告,你希望神會如何回應你?

注意:如果你手上有聖經,請閱讀並思考以下的經文:

詩篇1章1-6節
1:1 不從惡人的計謀,不站罪人的道路,不坐褻慢人的座位,
1:2 惟喜愛耶和華的律法,晝夜思想,這人便為有福!
1:3 他要像一棵樹栽在溪水旁,按時候結果子,葉子也不枯乾。凡他所做的盡都順利。
1:4 惡人並不是這樣,乃像糠秕被風吹散。
1:5 因此,當審判的時候,惡人必站立不住;罪人在義人的會中也是如此。
1:6 因為耶和華知道義人的道路;惡人的道路卻必滅亡。

詩篇23篇1-6節
23:1 耶和華是我的牧者,我必不致缺乏。
23:2 他使我躺臥在青草地上,領我在可安歇的水邊。
23:3 他使我的靈魂甦醒,為自己的名引導我走義路。
23:4 我雖然行過死蔭的幽谷,也不怕遭害,因為你與我同在;你的杖,你的竿,都安慰我。
23:5 在我敵人面前,你為我擺設筵席;你用油膏了我的頭,使我的福杯滿溢。
23:6 我一生一世必有恩惠慈愛隨著我;我且要住在耶和華的殿中,直到永遠。

馬太福音6章9-13節
6:9 所以,你們禱告要這樣說:我們在天上的父:願人都尊你的名為聖。
6:10 願你的國降臨;願你的旨意行在地上,如同行在天上。
6:11 我們日用的飲食,今日賜給我們。
6:12 免我們的債,如同我們免了人的債。
6:13 不叫我們遇見試探;救我們脫離兇惡(或譯:脫離惡者)。因為國度、權柄、榮耀,全是你的,直到永遠。阿們(有古卷沒有因為……阿們等字)!

馬太福音18章2-4節
18:2 耶穌便叫一個小孩子來,使他站在他們當中,
18:3 說:「我實在告訴你們,你們若不回轉,變成小孩子的樣式,斷不得進天國。
18:4 所以,凡自己謙卑像這小孩子的,他在天國裏就是最大的。

約翰福音17章20-22節
17:20 「我不但為這些人祈求,也為那些因他們的話信我的人祈求,
17:21 使他們都合而為一。正如你父在我裏面,我在你裏面,使他們也在我們裏面,叫世人可以信你差了我來。
17:22 你所賜給我的榮耀,我已賜給他們,使他們合而為一,像我們合而為一。


WHAT DO YOU WANT IN LIFE?

By Jim Langley

“What do you want in life?” Has anyone ever asked you that question? The best way to answer is by determining what is most important to you. Over more than 50 years, I have watched many business people become obsessed with success in their chosen profession. Some have even prayed for personal gain.

I see nothing wrong with striving for success, but believe God wants us to direct our prayers not toward ourselves, but for the needs of others and the advancement of His kingdom. I do not envision God anxiously waiting to fulfill our every selfish prayer when there is so much good we could be doing for others.

Sometimes I think of the Lord’s sobering words to Baruch who became despondent and questioned the prophet Jeremiah in his time of sorrow and pain. Here is what God said through the prophet to Baruch and anyone looking for special treatment in this life: “The Lord said, Say this to him: ‘This is what the Lord says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the land. Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life’” (Jeremiah 45:4-5).

We need to understand we are not owed any special dispensation. Some come into this world with much, while many arrive with very little. But we all arrive naked and will leave the same way. There was a time in my life when I often prayed for success and financial reward. That changed drastically after reading a book by Bruce Wilkinson, The Prayer of Jabez, in 2001. It helped me realize how superficial my prayer life was.

The book is based on two verses in a passage tracing the lineage of the tribe of Judah. It starts, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers” (1 Chronicles 4:9-10). Why was this guy more honorable? Wilkinson explains Jabez specifically prayed for God to bless him, enlarge his territory, be with him continually, and not let him be harmed so that he would be free from pain. It says God granted his request!

Since then I have been praying my own customized version of Jabez’ prayer. I pray, “Lord, I ask you to bless me beyond my expectations. Expand my borders, my areas of influence for Your glory. Keep Your hand on me constantly Lord and keep evil from me so I may not cause pain.” I continue to pray that without any expectations, and have been blessed immensely over the years. As we pray, what is most important is the condition of our heart – more than the specific words we direct to our Heavenly Father. He knows our heart and wants to bless us in ways we cannot comprehend.

This has helped define what I want in life, but has nothing to do with earthly wealth and riches. Many of my blessings did not even seem like blessings at the time. Yet through it all, I have drawn closer to God; His hand has been on me constantly. He has expanded my borders and areas of influence, and used me in ways I would never have imagined. He’s truly blessed me beyond my expectations.

I have come to realize it is not about my own accomplishments or skills. All that matters is knowing I am in His will and one day will know Him, as described in 1 John 3:2: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Is a relationship with Jesus your main focus – what you want in life?

© 2019, all rights reserved. Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God and his goal to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. He is a long-time member of CBMC.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. Suppose someone were to look you in the eye and ask, “What do you want in life? What do you really hope to get out of it?” How would you respond?
  2. If you pray about your job and the work you do, have you prayed for success and achievement? If so, in what ways – and what has been the response to those prayers? Explain your answer.
  3. In the book mentioned, The Prayer of Jabez, two verses from the Bible’s Old Testament highlight the prayer of an obscure man for personal blessings? Some people would be eager to submit such a request to God, while others might consider it inappropriate to do. What is you view about this? Explain your answer.
  4. How do you think expressing a prayer as Jabez did could affect one’s perspective on what they want in life? If you were to personalize this prayer, how would you like it to be answered?

NOTE: If you have a Bible, read and reflect on the following passages:

Psalms 1:1-6, 23:1-6; Matthew 6:9-13; 18:2-4; John 17:20-22

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