What Are We Here For?
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What Are We Here For?

Karen Berg
February 21, 2015

There is a story that tells of a bank robber who gets shot and killed in the middle of big heist. Fast forward a bit, and we find him apparently standing at the gates Upstairs where he meets a wonderful angel who says to him, “I am your angel, your messenger. Actually, I’m sort of like a genie, and anything you want, just ask me and you get it.”

And the bank robber says, “Wow, this is great! You know what? I want to have some alcohol. And let’s see, I also want to have some beautiful women around me. In fact, I want to do whatever I want and have the best time.”

And just like that, poof, the guy looks around and he’s in the middle of a fabulous party. So there he is, partying one day, two days, three days…until he says, “Hey, angel, wait a second. There’s something missing here. I’m done with all this stuff. I want to try something else.”

The angel says, “Sure, no problem. What do you want to do?”

And the guy replies, “You know what? I think I want to rob a bank.”

The angel says, “Really? OK, no problem. Pick a day, a time, whenever you want, and go on in and rob whatever bank you like.”

The guy shakes his head. “Hey, wait a minute. You don’t understand. That’s not the way it works. You don’t have to know what time or where it’s going to be. There’s no rush if the bank just allows me to rob it. I’ve got to have the cops follow me. I’ve got to be worried I’m going to get caught. I’ve got to get the adrenaline running.”

The angel says, “Oh well, I am sorry, but that doesn’t happen here. Here you get whatever you want, absolutely no strings attached. You want ice cream, it’s yours. You want women, they’re yours. You want sex, it’s yours. Whatever you want, you get it and you get it right away.”

The guy replies, “You know, I don’t like this place. I want to go to hell.”

And the angel says, “Where do you think you are?”

This is obviously just a story, not an accurate depiction of the afterlife. But what it does remind us is that we often think that if we could just get what we want, we would be happy. We forget that we chose to come here to this life so we could earn our fulfillment: to learn, grow, and transform. We forget that this physical world was created to give us the opportunity to become beings of sharing, like our Creator, and not just passive receivers of His goodness. And we forget, too, that learning to share unconditionally is the ticket to tasting the bounty of the Creator.