Is your life half gone?
“When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools.”
That is the fate of the man who gained riches by unjust means.
It is speaking of false character and false spiritual wealth—NOT material wealth. That is exactly Jeremiah’s point. We think we understand the difference between material and spiritual worth. But we fail to understand that ANY worth we give to our “material world” (in essence, “what ‘matters’ to me”) comes from somewhere. We fail to understand that we siphon DIRECTLY from what really matters. We are stealing treasure from somewhere we can’t even see. And then, when we finally look back—because we sense the hollowness underneath—we see that our true treasure chest has been emptied out. We are like the baron stealing oil from underneath the preacher’s neighboring land in “There Will be Blood.” We are actually both those characters. The false preacher winds up empty; equally as impoverished as the oil baron.
Jeremiah is saying that when you polish your character (or soul) as a thing outside of you, and believe it can be improved and maintained by a false morality—you are LYING to yourself; stealing from yourself. The worth you stored up within material wealth built up over half a lifetime turns out sadly to be your worth—even worse, it turns out to be you! And when you reach out, it sublimates away because there was nothing there. You had foolishly poured your worth into thin air.
People are always going from A to B.
Always from where they do not want to be to where they want to be. Where someone is right now is always less good than their next choice—by definition. And if, by some miracle, one is actually happy right now, he finds it exceedingly hard to both be happy and know he’s happy. He has the sense his good fortune is only fleeting--always feeling that where he is today is never enough; therefore, tomorrow must have it! That's it! Over there will be enough. Over there will be the golden ring. Over there, the promised land! But obviously he will never get there. Obviously anyone who sees the good life as always over there will never set one foot (not one toe!) in the the promised land. He will forever be one step, one River Jordan, one obstruction, one choice away. It is true what they say for the one who doesn't know how to live today: Tomorrow never comes. In this pitiful way one can spend almost his entire life never in the one place he actually exists—today. He can invest almost all his time—his golden treasure—in the two markets which yield the least returns—yesterday and tomorrow.
"This is the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it."
Why does the world say, “Where is your God?”
“My God is in heaven—the perfect place—his actions are always in alignment with his perfect will: to make his dwelling place and mine become one—which requires the borderlands and gates of his heavenly domain to expand; ever coming up against my earthly one. Where heaven meets earth—at this burning fissure, this ever-moving sword of flame, this ark of life, this pillar of stone, this burning bush, this cross on a hill— a battle rages, blood is shed, transformations are the rule. Transformations to continuously bring life out of death; to make the tyrant let go; to set the captive free; to shine light into the wilderness; to make safe paths out of the wasteland; peace out of conflict; perfection out of imperfection.”
“No,” the world says. “I cannot see that. I only trust in what I see.”
Yet, because compared to all there is to be seen, one sees almost nothing; then, necessarily, one is almost entirely blind. Therefore, what one sees...is only what one chooses to see. Those places he cannot see—those giant, universe-sized swathes of blindness—become merely gaps into which he deftly and arrogantly inserts himself in success and resentfully inserts others in failure. When one makes his own values—rationally—with his 4 bits per second of narrow thought and attention—he avoids the painful sacrifice of lowering himself in humility beneath every success and the equally painful sacrifice of elevating himself in responsibility for every failure. See what man does? He takes something, and creates with it, manipulates and endows it with meaning; imbues it with a value it never had on its own (and one can do this with almost anything). And he prefers to do this far, far from any burning bushes; far from any crosses on a hill.
Those who make their highest value (their idol) something of their own creation, by their own reason, their own human hands; and trust in it—they eventually become it; their idol. They become a parody of themselves—complete with eyes, hands, feet, noses and mouths; by all appearances—a successful human. Yet, a human who is rigid, unmoving and unmoved, unfeeling, blind, unable to utter a sound, unable to pay attention to Being itself.