Already Naked

June 12, 2012 - 5:00 am

”At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised’.” — Job 1:20–21

The book of Job provides us with a stunning example of courage in the face of adversity. Who is not touched by Job’s faith in the face of unfathomable tragedy? Just as he finished learning that he had lost all of his worldly possessions, he discovered that he had also lost every single one of his children.  All on the same day!

Job went from being the wealthiest and most blessed man on the planet to being an example of destitution and loss. His response is startling. He did not curse God and he did not question Him.  Instead he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.

In a moment of clarity, Job realized that he never really had anything to lose in the first place. Every human being enters this world with nothing and he/she will leave with nothing. Anything acquired in the meantime is a gift, but oh-so-very temporary.

Thousands of years later, these words were echoed in the powerful words said by the late CEO and co-founder of the Apple computer company, Steve Jobs. In a commencement speech given at the Stanford University, Jobs said, “All external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure, these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Job and Jobs are making the same point. We come to this world with nothing and we leave with nothing. But that’s not depressing; that’s inspiring. Knowing that we have nothing to lose is comforting, and even empowering.

Because the moment that we let go of our physical attachments and petty concerns, we are free to focus on what really matters. We are free to try new things and to risk failure. We can go after our dreams! Failure is not nearly as scary when we have nothing on the line.

What would you try if you knew that you had nothing to lose?


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