Spiritual Alchemy

What is your life’s mission? We all want to know our life’s purpose. A research study conducted by psychologists Ellen Langer& Judy Rodin in the 1970’s showed that people who believed their life hadpurpose and meaning were happier, more resilient, and lived longer than thosewho did not.

 Dr.Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, said “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life;everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. There in he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task isunique as his specific opportunity to implement it.
Scientific studies have repeatedly shown us that when we perceive that our lives have purpose we gain strength from even the most difficult situationsin life because everything happens for a purpose and therefore has meaning. Those people whohave chosen to live with a sense of purpose are easy to spot: they emitpositive energy and maintain hope through trying times.

My precious daughters Gabbie & Stephie love watching Anime. I am amazed at the life lessons that are communicated in these animations. In particular, my eldest,Gabbie, is captivated by Fullmetal Achemist, a Japanese Anime that seeks torestore what is lost through alchemy: A magical power that transmutes an ordinary substance, usually of little value, into an exceptional substance of greater value. The main characters must forge ahead if despair is to be transmuted into peace. In a land marred by war and persecution, where truth comes only with tragedy, the main characters undertake their desperate search for the philosopher’s stone. Every step closer brings them deeper into the darkest shadows of reality. Sinful abominations, both supernatural and human, try tokeep the characters from redemption. Each episode begins with music and this quote:“Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return…”

This quote always resonates deep within me and reminds me of a biblical passage “to give them beauty for ashes” (Is.61:3). So many people are looking for this spiritualalchemy, a sustainable transformation that leads to a life worth living. The truth is that we cannot gain anything from God without first giving Him ourashes. Your ashes might be a major life trauma, emotional and/or physical pain,mental illness, addictive behaviors, depression, or maybe a wounded heart. If you are a Christian, your ashes might be a lack of self-understanding and direction. You may have the means to live, but no meaning to live for. This spiritual desert itself can convert into a pervasive health problem, this crisis can lead to all sorts of dis-ease and emotional distress, including depression, anxiety, and fatigue. Our biography becomes our biology. Yes, our life stories, thoughts, attitudes and beliefs convert into our biology.
Whatever your ashes might represent to you, God, through His process, can transform your woundedness into something beautiful, a life worth living. The late theologian Howard Thurman often said, “There are two questions we must ask ourselves. The first is ‘Where am I going?’ and the second is ‘Who will go with me?’ If you get these questions in the wrong order, you are in trouble.” Take some time to think about this question.
Personally, I have found this “life worth living” in a nonreligious relationship with Jesus Christ. He has taken my ashes and converted them into a beautiful life. In Christ, every event and each person in my life embodies a sacred purpose, even my enemies and my sufferings. I have learned that my responsibility is to recognize and integrate all of them into myawareness so that I can discern the greater pattern for my life mission. Anthony Robbins says “the difference between those who succeed and those who fail isn’twhat they have—it’s what they choose to see and do with their resources and theirexperience of life.   
We are all being transformed, the question is into what? We become what we behold. What are you beholding? The Apostle Paul said “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit ofthe Lord(I Cor 3:18). When Jesus presented the heart ofHis mission, He said: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). The “new” and “abundant life” is found in a relationship with Jesus. You and I are called to a fullness of life that far exceeds just an earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of Christ.
In The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren says: You were made by God and for God-and until you understand that, life will never make sense. It is only in God that we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny. Every other path leadsto a dead end. God created you and accepts you-no matter what you have everdone or failed to do.

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