Take Charge of Your Life...Before It Takes Charge of You - Dr. Richard Ganz

Excerpt - Chapter 2

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Breaking Into a Take-Charge Life

How long will it take you to come to a Take-Charge life? It may take you a great deal of time. It may happen to you in the twinkling of an eye. For me, it happened between the time my eyes glanced from a name on a page, to the face of a person in front of me. You will know when you get there.

If a Take-Charge life is not success, wealth, strength, or power, what is it? Did my new job at the medical center achieve it? Let’s see.

Another turning point in my life was about to happen. I was not long into my work at the medical center. I was sitting in a case-conference and watching the leading psychoanalytic psychotherapist in the city conduct a psychotherapy session in front of the entire psychiatric and psychological community. Dr. Chernoff also happened to be my therapist, and watching him, I appreciated even more just how good he was at what he did. Then, as if out of nowhere, a strange thought entered my head: This is useless nonsense. Clever, but meaningless. This thought terrified me. It seemed as if I were saying goodbye to what seemed to be a lifetime of preparation for this kind of work. Once again, my life seemed to be out of control and Taking-Charge of me.

I could not help asking myself how this could be happening to me now when I had finally achieved everything. One day, I was traveling from the medical center to my psychiatrist’s office for my psychotherapy session. I decided to tell Al Saunders, my colleague at the medical center who was also traveling to his psychiatrist’s office (what a messed up world we were living in!), just what I was going through. I said, “Al, psychotherapy is useless and meaningless. We aren’t really helping anyone to have a great life. Al, we don’t even have that great life ourselves.”

With both hands, Al grabbed my shirt and tie, and hurled me into the window of the bus. He said, “Rich, take a look. What do you see?” I answered, “I see men covered with dirt and sweat digging ditches in the road.” Al replied, “That’s right Rich, and that will be you really soon if you keep talking like that.”

Al brought me back to my senses—at least for a while. I tried to not think about these things. I tried to tell myself that things like meaning and truth did not matter, especially since there was no meaning and there was no truth. I thought I had resolved the issue by telling myself that in a meaningless, senseless world, at least I would be able to have everything that I wanted.

Coming Home

Before I knew it, Nancy and I were off for a month-long trip to Europe. We were traveling just the way we traveled when we met two years earlier in Venice—hitchhiking. One evening, we found ourselves knocking on the door of a home belonging to people we did not know. They opened the door, smiled at us, and said, “Welcome, you’ve arrived.” This is an interesting greeting, considering that they did not know us or know that we were coming! We were ushered into a living room filled with people sitting on the floor, chairs, and couches. We were about to listen to a lecture from a professor of theoretical physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology on quantum mechanics and its relationship to God.

That was the first moment of my life in which I realized that a person does not have to be stupid to believe in God. After the lecture, someone came up to Nancy and me and asked me how we had come to L’Abri. I asked him what L’Abri was. He said, “This is L’Abri.” He was quite amazed that we had come to this place without knowing what it was. We had no idea that we were standing in the living room of a Christian community whose purpose was to reach young people who were struggling with questions about the meaning of life. My questions were not stupid questions to the people at L’Abri. As far as they were concerned, my questions were what life is all about.

At a certain point, someone came over to me and asked if he could read something to me from the Bible. When I said, “Go ahead,” he read to me words about a man who was beaten and bloodied. He read to me about a man who had nothing attractive about him. He read to me about a man who was despised and rejected. He read to me about a man who was filled with sorrow and grief. He read to me about a man who was wounded and crushed for our sins. He read to me about a lamb that was led to the slaughter. He read to me about a man whose life was an offering for sin. He read to me about a man who bore the sins of many.

My response was rage. It was a rage that deepened with every verse that was read. I thought, How dare he read to me, a Jew, about his New Testament Gentile deity? I told him, in no uncertain terms, what I thought. He never said a word to me. He simply handed me the Bible from which he had just read.

The instant I saw the name at the top of the page, was the instant that my life was changed forever. The name was Isaiah, the great Old Testament prophet. Looking at his name, I felt as if I had died. I knew that Isaiah had lived over seven hundred years before Jesus. In the time it takes to scream, I realized this prophet was speaking of Jesus. I felt as if someone had stabbed me through and through. I knew in that instant that everything I had been wondering about, everything regarding life and death, meaning and purpose, was about to be answered by this Galilean carpenter. His name had been my favorite curse. Now it was to become to me that Name which is above every name. I had been captured by Christ.

I was now at the place where I could see. I could see that life was not in partying. I could also see that life was not in academic accomplishment and a successful psychotherapy career. Life was to be found in this Galilean whose voice spanned the ages and reached, two thousand years later, into my heart. If I had known these words concerning Jesus much earlier, I certainly would have pondered them: He is to be “appointed for the rise and fall of many in Israel.” I did not know if I was rising, or falling, or just spinning madly out of control. What I knew was this: Jesus has the answer about life, and if I want to know it, I must surrender my life completely to Him.

That is what I did in the time between reading the name Isaiah, and lifting my eyes from that page. I was now in contact with the God of Israel; the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Richard. This wandering Jew had come home.

Take-Charge Action Initiatives
  1. What place does God have in your life?


  2. Is there anything that you think is stupid about believing in God?


  3. Are there any aspects about Christianity that bring you to rage?


  4. Have you ever committed your life to Jesus? If not, why not, and what can you do about it?


Copyright 2008 Richard Ganz

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