Question: Is there a Best Life Plan?
By Richard W. Darnell | June 25, 2020
Most of the time, I offer counsel privately. Today’s question could be the most serious for everyone – no matter your current age. Financial survival for a lifetime cannot be left to circumstances and unplanned outcomes. The world system is based on the survival of the fittest, which translates into “you are on your own.”
This means that each person needs a sovereign power that is greater than any of the world’s human-operated governments. Therefore, when you establish a basic financial plan and accept God’s offer to be one of His children (John 1) you will be the most successful in this life and secure for the life after death – which is an eternity.
The American dream has always been premised on the ability of each individual to have talent, motivation, drive, and “luck.” Timing or being in the right place when the opportunity presents itself is an important factor in the level of financial success each person will experience in their lifetime.
The better prepared you are to examine the present and see opportunities for the future, the greater success you can then expect. Herein lies the significance of education. Elementary education is the more important of the grade levels to prepare the foundation for the learning that continues through each grade level. The better the elementary school teachers, the better equipped you will be for your life span.
College or trade school is important because its experience finishes what your educational experience was including (for most of us) the high school diploma. This phase also extends the foundational preparation for your vocation or profession. Far more important than many teenagers will recognize.
Masters, Ph.D., or Professional degrees after college are helpful to all who have become serious students in College or Trade School. These degrees give you the opportunity to finish whatever passion you have discovered that you enjoy enough that you do not experience any grind or forced effort to accomplish. Therefore, finishing becomes the beginning of the rest of your life. What a joy ride it can be.
Reality does not provide each person with the foresight to discover their most passionate endeavor. This group of persons is the American majority – my opinion. We can focus on this group to better understand the American economy and economic impact on those who do not get the message of preparing today for life after age 70. When you experience the life of those living beyond 70, you learn there comes a time when businesses no longer want you. When you are in your 20s and 30s almost every business wants you because your talent can be trained to accomplish the objectives of their business with an exceptionally profitable result. Also, you do not pose a threat to upper management who are older and more established in their positions. Therefore, you will be treated more as a protégé with special privileges.
There are many advisers with different life plans. Rabbis, typically, will have a great and conservative economic plan. I will share with you what life has taught me. If you are an elementary student or older with younger siblings (girls or boys) and receive an allowance or income from chores you do around the house or for other people – perhaps in their yards or gardens. Wherever and however money comes into your possession, take 20% of that fund and open a savings account. This account is not for spending. It is for accumulating a solid account to be used at full retirement and not before. Exception, when you have your family, you may have emergency expenses for severe issues that require your reserves. In that event, use no more than one-half of the balance.
When this savings plan becomes a habit, then you will be in the practice of saving first. Please never abandon this practice. Most current economic information shows us that saving 30% of our income over the course of our working life will provide a better emergency fund and savings balance for our “golden years.” There is nothing more disappointing than reaching retirement with the time to do whatever you wish – but, OH NO, you do not have the funds to do them.
Regardless of age, now is the time to begin your savings regimen. Obviously, if you are in your late 20s or early 30s you have an expectation of more time to prepare for retirement beyond the age of 70. Therefore, when considering employment, the better settled, battle-tested companies offering participating retirement investment plans will be among your top choices. When the employer is participating in building your retirement account, it is a huge benefit that must be given consideration.
Younger companies must be examined more closely to determine the likelihood of their ability to withstand the economic downturns that have occurred about every seven (7) years. That has been my experience. Some have been light while others were serious enough to cause the collapse of many companies that were thought to be capable of surviving the worst. Working life is short. Making the best of it requires preparation and control.
Now let’s move into the more important part of the life plan. Regardless of how well you prosper in the financial department, that success will not bring personal satisfaction, joy, nor a guarantee of a pleasant eternity.
If you can grasp infinity, then you will better understand that you will have an eternity. The only question is where will you spend that eternity and who with? We are promised the right to choose between heaven or hell. Heaven seems to be a place of bliss that does not have any crying or sadness. The Bible describes it as a joyful place that is constantly praising God. Hell is described as the place of fire, brimstone, and never-ending pain. The earlier in life that you decide which destination is your preference the better.
Perhaps it is obvious that I have assumed you are a person of faith in God’s gospel of salvation. The difficult part of life is to understand how truly short life on earth lasts. Your soul (spirit) never dies. It is difficult to recognize a never-ending life. But eternity is our destiny. When life on earth is complete and we separate from this mortal human body, our soul returns to God who placed it within us and awaits final judgment. (see, Ecclesiastes 12:7, “the dust returns to earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God, who gave it!” CJSB, The Complete Jewish Study Bible)
When this carnal life ends, our soul leaves the body and is fully alive as we await the final judgment (John 5:28-30, Jesus says, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing, I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me”). Since our soul is what God breathed into us and imprinted with His truth, it never dies. Its food is the presence of God, Son, and Holy Spirit for the believer – both in this life and eternity to come. For the non-believer, their food was given at birth and carries its eternal life as God elects. The judgment of where our soul spends eternity is determined by God’s justice tempered by mercy. Where is the practice and preferences for your Faith? Have you recognized the sovereign power of God?
God does not change – we do. Our temporal life is an ever-changing series of events experienced, filtered, and owned. Each decision we make establishes some portion of the rules by which the next experience will be determined acceptable or to be rejected. From whom would you prefer to learn rules of moral conduct to evaluate your behavior, decide to receive or reject invitations, and to engage in creating or maturing relationships with people who have differing values from yours? You can have God as your ultimate guide through faith in His Son (Yeshua in Hebrew and Jesus in English), by way of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus taught that He and the Father would come and make their home with the believer who kept His commandments (John 14:23). How this occurs is through the resident Holy Spirit guaranteed to be present as our counselor for each person who has faith in the Son (Jesus) sufficient to TRUST Him fully and completely. It is not a difficult path to learn and navigate through life. Yes, it does require a full surrender to God through His Son. The difficulty comes when citizens of the world bring opportunity to you that conflicts with your faith and God’s plan. Then we experience stress, pressure, indecision, and a host of other isms. It is most important to “know that you know” God’s path through His only begotten Son is in all situations best for you. Now you may face whatever temptation that comes and make the choice consistent with the Holy Spirit’s counsel.
Also, as a person of faith, you are becoming better prepared to engage in a romantic relationship. Choosing a mate is important. The right mate will be a delight every day of your life. Whatever disagreements come or issues arise, nothing will interfere with a genuinely healthy relationship.
There are enough atheists and agnostics who have examined the life of Iesus (Greek) or Jesus (English created around 1638) and changed their beliefs (i.e., C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel). Their writings before and after their investigation are very engaging and more than worthwhile because of the depth of research. It is amazing what we can learn from examining the translated work of the first 3 centuries CE including what is called “early Church History.”
The most important talent you can develop is the ability to create healthy relationships. People often get into unhealthy relationships because they either follow what influenced them at home or never took this part of life seriously. God created us and established the eternal result of our acknowledgment or rejection of faith in His Son, Jesus. God is our Father. There cannot be me without God’s creating me through the human process of procreation with God supplying my soul/spirit.
When I came to understand this, my allegiance, faith, dedication, discipline, and principles of living must be whatever God has allowed and asked me to observe and do. When I mess up, the Holy Spirit will remind me of the error, shortcomings, and I know to confess my error and seek God’s forgiveness.
No best plan of life exists without a fully dedicated and surrendered self to God through His Son, Jesus. Why? Because the Bible He has left for us contains the history of humans from beginning through more than 5000 years of existence. We learn from it that Israel (all the Jewish people) made valiant efforts to “do as they wanted” regardless of God’s commands. The outcome? They failed miserably. Only when they followed God did they prosper most.
What stands out in the Bible – above all else – is that God’s promises are always fulfilled. God does not ask for perfection – just the effort for me to become like His Son, Jesus, Amen