The Vanity of Josh

Guest post by Josh Bloodworth

My last semester of physical therapy school was supposed to be difficult but was also supposed to end on a high note. On April 28th, I was scheduled to take the long-anticipated Boards, which I would pass. Then, on May 9th, I would walk across the stage with diploma and license in hand and be on the way to advanced training in a full-time residency program. To say I was proud would be an understatement. Not only was I going to be a licensed clinician, I was going to get to spend the summer months doing what I wanted to do before starting residency. We all know what happened next.

As the initial confusion and bustle of the pandemic response faded, I was left with a lot of free time and my own thoughts. I found myself reflecting on the previous three years.

My Way

I started the pursuit of physical therapy for two reasons: (1) love for God’s creation through the human body and (2) a desire to meet people in their hurting (both physically and spiritually). Looking back, those initial motivations were not what sustained my efforts.

I worked hard because I wanted to be the best, know the most, have the sharpest skills, and be known for my accomplishments in the physical therapy community. My focus drifted from God’s glory to my gloating. Reflecting on this led me to a bleak conclusion: life has potential to be a colossal waste of time.

    •    What are my accomplishments?
    •    What’s the point of all this?
    •    What in this life is worth pursuing?

Let’s imagine that I become one of the most well-known and knowledgeable physical therapists during my era and that I contribute groundbreaking, new knowledge about healing and the human body. My end of the story is still the same as everyone else’s. Nothing I accomplish will save me from the end of this life. No earthly desire or pursuit will be enough. God's Word spoke clearly to me:

“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns.”
Ecclesiastes 1:2-6

“Come now, you who say “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4: 13-14)
“Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath. Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!”

Psalm 39:5-6

It's like God was gently but forcefully reminding, “Josh, come on buddy, this profession isn’t worth your hope.”

A Better Way

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”
Psalm 39:7

I want to take a moment to describe why Jesus, not our effort, is alone worthy of our hope.

Jesus is forever. Our efforts die with us.

“The grass withers, and the flower fades, but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
1 Peter 1:24-25

Jesus’s word is true and a firm foundation. Our accomplishments are fleeting.

“This God – His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.”
Psalms 18:30

“Long have I known your testimonies that you have founded them forever.” (Psalms 119:152)
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

Matthew 7:24

Jesus pursues and sustains us regardless of our earthly efforts.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together in Christ.”
Ephesians 2:4

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law me meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.”
Psalms 1:1-3

Jesus is proud of you, not your accomplishments.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17

Jesus is both our present security and our future hope.

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.”
1 Thessalonians 5:9-10

Jesus offers unimaginably more purpose, love, joy, comfort, satisfaction, contentment, excitement, rest, wonder, discovery, and belonging than my works, accomplishments, and efforts could ever dream of offering. Our Father’s promises remove the vanity of this life. We are free in Christ to ignore our glory and substitute it for Christ’s (Galatians 1:10).

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