There is a proverb that says, “Be careful, my child, what you want, for you shall surely get it.”  That is an overstatement, but it is the overstatement of a truth.  Within the bounds of reason, you and I do tend to get from life those things that we really want, because we go after them.  We pay the price that it takes to get them. 

                The challenge remains for each of us to apply this searching test to his or her life.  It is one thing, and a rather easy one, for us to desire some worthwhile goal.  It is another thing for us to pay the price that is necessary to reach that goal.  My guess is that everyone would profess a desire for improved character within himself and improved relationships with other people.  In a broad and general sense, all of us would like to be stronger and better people.  And all of us would like to have happy homes and enduring friendships.  But how many of us are practicing those spiritual disciplines that lead to strength of character?  And how many of us are putting the needs of other people on the same level, or even on a higher level than our own needs?  To honestly answer these questions is the only way to determine what we really want from life.

                Let us consider one other dimension of this truth.  It is this:  If we want the finer things of life, we must pay fay for them before we get them.  If, on the other hand, we want the cheap and shabby things, we can buy them on credit.  We can have them now and pay for them later.

                All of us are faced with the same kind of choices.  If a high school or college student wants an idle and lazy life, he can have it right now and pay for it later.  But if he wants to get a good education and graduate with honors, he cannot have that today.  He or she must pay for it before they can have it.  If a man or woman wants to express their sexuality by having casual affairs with several different people, none of whom they really know, they can start today.  They can have that kind of life right now and pay the consequences of it later.  But if that person wants a good marriage and a good home, where young love deepens into friendship and grows richer with every passing year, he cannot have that immediately.  It can be his or hers someday, but that person must pay for it before he or she can have it.

                So what do we really want from life?  Ralph Waldo Emerson, in one of his essays, puts these words on the lips of God: “Take what you want, take it and pay for it.”  And yet, in light of the Gospels, the reverse would be the truth: “Pay for what you want.  Pay in advance.  Pay in terms of devotion to Christ and discipline of self.  Then the best things in life can be yours forever and ever.”