The pastor stood before his packed congregation with a sense of urgency. “Over the years” he said, “I’ve been asked a lot of questions, but the one that I hear most often is the one I want to answer for you today., and that’s what life is all about.”
You see the meaning of life goes all the way back to the very first day, when God was creating all the animals; after making each animal he gave them instructions on how it would use its life to serve human kind, and gave each animal a lifespan comparable to the difficulty of its duties.
The first animal that God created was the dog, and he told the dog that his job was to spend all of its days sitting by the front door of its house and barking at every living thing which passed by: “for this” God said, “you will be granted a twenty years of life.”
But the dog was not content with what he had been given… “I appreciate this gift of life but twenty years is an awful long time for such a simple and monotonous life, don’t you think? Why don’t you give me just ten years to live and I’ll give you back the other ten?” And God saw the dog’s point of view and he agreed to its terms.
And the next animal that God gave form was the monkey, and he said unto the monkey “you will entertain man with your tricks and silliness, and in exchange for making humanity laugh I will also reward you with twenty years of life. But the monkey had heard God’s offer to the dog and it too wasn’t content.
“God, I don’t mean to be ungrateful or anything, but I think that after performing the same routine for twenty years that the joke would quickly wear thin. I listened to the deal that you gave to the dog and I kind of think I’d like the same thing: how about you give me ten years to live and in exchange you can have the other ten back?” And out of love and fairness, God agreed.
And the next animal that God breathed life into was the cow, and God said unto the cow “you have one of the most important jobs of all animal life; you must work with man in the field and the blazing hot sun, you must bear calves, and you must provide milk to the farmers so that they may quench their family’s thirst, and in exchange for this crucial job I shall grant you sixty years of life. But the cow was also not content with God’s generous offer.
“You bless me God, truly, but that kind of sounds like a tough life to manage for sixty years. I’ve got to be honest: I’m not even sure I’d still be able to make milk after year twenty. How about I keep twenty of the years and I’ll give the other forty back to you?” And God saw the plight of the cow and so he gave it mercy.
And as you all know God created human kind, and when he did he told us how we were meant to live. “Go forth and enjoy life’s pleasures; feast, rest, love, wed, frolic, and chase your wildest dreams; do this and I will give you twenty beautiful years to live your life to the fullest.” But human kind was not content with God’s gracious offer.
“Only twenty years?” Humanity cried. “How could I enjoy all the beauty of your creation in such a short amount of time? Couldn’t you possibly give me a bit longer? How about you also give me all the unwanted years of the other animals: then I could live eighty years in the pursuit of happiness.”
And so God grinned and replied, “all right… you’ll get what you asked for.”
And that, my friends, is why we play, eat, and sleep for the first twenty years of our life. We spend forty years of our life working ourselves to the bone to provide for our loved ones. We spend ten years entertaining our grandkids like a monkey. And in the last ten years of our life we sit on our front porch: barking at everyone we can.
And that is what life is all about.