Richard shivered, his pale skin almost translucent in the eerie, yellow light of the Court of Chancery. His gaze shifted to Ada. Beautiful, constant Ada. How had it come to this? Just a bit longer. It would all be worth it when they received the inheritance.
It seemed ages since he first heard they might be inheritors of the famous Jarndyce will. The possibilities with such money seemed infinite! When he met Ada, love blossomed instantly. They had only decide what to do with such a great amount of money. Ideas abounded.
Richard tried different professions as the courts processed the will. None seemed to stick. He just didn’t have the knack for surgery and the law was tedious. In fact, everything seemed to lose it’s appeal, except for Ada. And the money.
His heart wasn’t even in soldiering. And his money had run out. But the hours he spent arguing with the courts would be worth it. He would get a ruling.
He coughed in a handkerchief and wiped his forehead. Sweat and chills. It would be worth it.
As Richard tried to keep warm, his eyes shifted from Ada to the front. The judge was making his way to the his seat. It was time. This was it. The wait was over. Breathe.
In the matter of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce, the courts find in favor of Richard Carstone and Ada Clare…
Eruptions of cheers broke out over the crowd. A bit of color returned to Richard’s cheeks as he embraced Ada and let out a sigh of relief. Visions of their home, garden, and perhaps a nursery flooded his mind’s eye.
Litigation costs are equal to the estate. Therefore, all inheritance is consumed by the court.
The dream of money killed Richard Carstone of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. His pursuit, which began honestly and with good intentions, quickly took over his being and quite literally consumed him.
So how does one keep from being consumed? Is the great commandment of Jesus, to love God and others as ourselves, really all? Is it that simple?
Perhaps so. Perhaps merely shifting our attentions and energies to pursuit of God will realign priorities in a way we couldn’t do ourselves.
But we play a part in this thing, too. We’re not just puppets being moved by a master. There is still free will to consider.
How about this for starters: All of life is a gift. It is not something merely to be consumed, but managed.
For example, money. Ingrained perspective – I earned it. It’s mine. I want to use it for things I need and want.
New thought – it is a gift. Even though I worked hard, it is still a gift. From what has been given to manage, I offer some back. Then, I use what I need. The rest is for giving.
Time, food, exercise, career decisions. All these change when I perceive myself as a manager instead of consumer. I play a role in this world. I am not the world.
Strangely enough, this less-self-centered perspective has advantages. When I remove myself from the center of the world, other things come into view. I see and feel rhythms of life totally separated from myself. Colors and shapes intensify. Life is deep and rich. I am part, not the whole.
Have you ever heard someone say, I was sent to paint a room, build a house, or serve people in some way and they ended up blessing me more than I helped them? Why is that? Why are people so effected by service to others? Could it be that we are created to be part and not the whole?
As Richard Carstone discovered, when we put ourselves, our own interests and pursuits, at the center and forefront of our lives, grey, lonely death results.
When we seek first God and His kingdom, vibrant life-giving richness follows.
Love God. WIth your whole heart, mind, and strength. Give Him your greatest efforts, worry, concern, and care. Die to yourself. Self leads only to death. Allow love for God to open your eyes to love for others. Above all, don’t travel alone! We are made to be part, not the whole.