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Explaining Heaven to Bears

December 1st, 2009 · 1 Comment

“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

At True Potential Publishing, we’ve been checking into making all of our printed books available in e-book format as well. E-books have the advantage of being free from printing, inventory and shipping costs – three major expenses for publishers – which get passed on to the reader.

A reader just downloads an e-book and begins reading – no wait, no postage, no UPS truck. A lot of folks read (or try to) e-books on their computer screen. But it’s not easy; computer screens are hard on the eyes after awhile and they’re not conducive to curling up with on the couch or bringing to your bedside for a little pre-sleep read.

So the e-book folks invented e-book readers. They’re portable electronic devices, about the size of a paperback, that store and display e-books in a way that mimics a normal paper book page.

Since I’m planning on getting into the e-book business I figured I’d better buy an e-book reader. There are about thirty different readers on the market right now. Before buying I read some reviews so I could be sure I was doing the right thing. One excellent review (by John Biggs) gave ten reasons to buy an Amazon Kindle and ten reasons not to buy a Kindle. Reason number seven for not buying a Kindle was: “Flight attendants will tell you to turn it off on takeoff and landing. You can’t explain that it’s e-paper and uses no current. You just can’t. It’s like explaining heaven to bears.”

“Explaining heaven to bears” – that line sold me – I bought a Kindle.

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you were explaining heaven to bears? I have.

A friend asked me recently why I do what I do for a living (publishing books with an authentic Christian message); he asked if I did it for the money. I laughed to myself and my internal chuckle spilled out into our conversation. I shared my private joke with him. No, I don’t do this for the money. In fact, the idea that I’d do this for the money has become so irrelevant to me that when somebody asks, I’ve got to laugh.

Then, not to seem rude, I tried to explain why I laughed at his sincere and reasonable question. Depending on who asks, trying to explain why I do what I do is kind of like explaining heaven to bears. It’s like somebody asking if we chose our home because it has flush toilets.

Our house does have flush toilets, and I’m glad it does, but it doesn’t occur to me as the primary reason for living here. In fact I don’t give them much thought at all. I might change my tune if one of them ever stopped doing its job; but then I’d just fix the problem and go back to not paying them much attention.

I understand that if a person had never seen a flush toilet it might be so unique and the prospect of having one in the home so potentially life changing that he might, indeed, live in a house just for the toilet. But for most of us the novelty has worn off. Our homes already have them, they’re useful, even critical appliances, but they’re not our main reason for living in the house.

I remember when money was the main reason for doing what I did ‘for a living’. Some days the job was okay, other days it was miserable … but I always looked forward to payday. And the actual work involved in ‘working for the money’ wasn’t necessarily worse than what I do today. And it isn’t that my ‘working for the money’ job was meaningless. The manufacture and sale of our products were necessary to industry, contributed to the local economy and employed people in the community. I don’t employ anyone in the community right now and our products aren’t ‘necessary to industry’, so on that scale, ‘working for the money’ contributed plenty to society that my current job doesn’t.

The biggest difference between ‘working for the money’ and what I do now, the reason that making money takes up as much of my consciousness as flush toilets, is that now I feel like I’m doing what I was put here for and before I felt like I was waiting to do what I was put here for. It’s the difference between living and waiting to begin living.

I still have frustrations at work but, if anything, it’s the frustration of not doing enough. It’s not the underlying frustration of waiting to begin.

Does that make sense to you?

I don’t ‘work for the money’ anymore. I work for God. I don’t tell people who I work for very often because preachers and other ‘religious professionals’ have made ‘working for God’ into a cliché. But if you get down to brass tacks, that’s Who you’re working for when you’re doing what you were put here to do, and that’s what I’m doing so that’s Who I work for.

About the money: my comparing money to flush toilets doesn’t mean that money doesn’t matter to me anymore. Money matters … every bit as much as flush toilets. It’s great to have. It makes life a lot easier. Like flush toilets, money has become a necessary domestic device. I’m sure I’d miss it if I ceased to have access to it. But it doesn’t fill my waking hours. When I don’t need it I don’t think about it and when I do need it, enough is there to meet the need. It’s just that life has become so much more important, that money gets pushed back to a supporting role. Besides, working for God and worrying about money is infinitely more stupid than working for IBM and worrying whether or not the company will make payroll. God can afford you … relax.

I feel like I’m explaining heaven to bears again. Jesus did it much better.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:22-26, 29-31, 32-34)

I love my job.

Tags: purpose · Site News · success · Thriving in Tough Times

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Carol J. Van Drie // Dec 3, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    I never thought I’d really love my Kindle – I waited and waited for the price to drop and it did three times – and then I got one – just a few months ago. I’m enthralled with it and I have always found it difficult to read a book on a PC so this surprised me!

    I loved your title too – it got me! And SO happy you’re moving into electronic publishing! GREAT idea – God bless your service to the Lord and the example of a happy, loving servant you show us with your newsletters and media appearances.

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