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The End State Is Shalom

Last week, we talked about desire, specifically our core desire, or core motive. I made the case that everything you do in your life flows from your core desire. If you want to reorder your life, you need to start with being honest about what you desire and why. As I thought about that this week, I realized some of you read that post and probably thought, “That was a good message Trey wrote – for someone else.” Because let’s face it, you’ve made it. You’re living the ‘good life.’ You’ve got the nice house; You’ve got the pool in the backyard; You’ve got the financial stability to buy what you want, pretty much when you want it; You and your spouse don’t really fight that much; You’ve got decent kids; And to top it all off, you’re RXing the WOD’s and finally have a Fran time under seven minutes. Life is good – or is it?

I heard a speaker use a great illustration about life. She talked about life being like a ladder. As you accomplish the things in life you believe make you successful according to your view of the world, you climb another rung on your ladder. Slowly, you make your way to the top. But what’s at the top for you? In other words, what wall did you lean your ladder against? Before you start any journey in life, you need to stop and ask yourself this question – what do I want from what I’m about to do? In the military, they call this the end state.

The end state is the specified situation at the successful completion of the final phase of a military operation. Simply put, it’s the final outcome. When the military starts an operation, they know what success looks like because they have determined in advance what they want. Now, whether they get it or not is another story, but any military commander would tell you it’s pointless to send troops into combat without a clearly defined end state. So, what’s the end state for your life? I don’t mean death, rather what’s it going to look like when you wake up and realize you’re living the ‘good life.’ In Spiritual Fitness, the end state is shalom.

I love the word ‘shalom.’ For most people, this word means peace. And while the end state of a spiritually fit life is one filled with peace, it’s so much more, because shalom means so much more. Shalom is an ancient Hebrew word that encompasses not just a state of the world, but a state of how we are to exist in the world. In addition to peace, shalom means wholeness, fullness, completeness, prosperity, welfare, tranquility, and it can also be used to say both hello and goodbye. Shalom describes a state of flourishing, and it is in this context that it becomes so relevant both to Spiritual Fitness as well as defining the ‘good life.’ The reason people end up in a mid-life crisis or chained to their social media or bitter about life is because they stopped flourishing. When they achieved what they thought was the ‘good life,’ they woke up the next day with a void. Despite all their efforts, they couldn’t maintain a constant state of joy. In an effort to placate the pain or disappointment, they took their ladder and started searching for something else to climb. I know because for 39 years, that was me. I climbed the ladders of success in corporations, athletic competitions, and material possessions only to come to the same conclusion – fleeting happiness. What I came to realize is that I had the wrong end state in mind. Your ‘best life’ isn’t ordered around self-fulfillment, it’s found in the flourishment that comes from the shalom of Jesus. You will discover a richer, deeper sense of who you are and what you can achieve in this world when you make your end state shalom, and that’s a tranquility and peace that only God can bring. No corner office, no heart on Instagram, no PR in the gym, and no vacation will bring you shalom. So if shalom is not your end state, from one ladder owner to another, take it down, cast it aside, and ask God to make you complete in the fullness of His love alone. The end state is shalom.

Questions for Reflection: Post your answers to the comments below

  • Growing up, who influenced your view of what the ‘good life’ was? What did it look like?

  • Can you recall a time in your life where you realized you had your ladder against the wrong wall? What was your next move?

  • Is it reasonable to believe that God can bring us shalom? Of all the words shalom can mean, which one do you struggle believing God could bring you?

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