Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Life of Significance

A popular anti-drug campaign that ran on TV for a few years contained this line: “No one ever said; ‘I want to be a junkie when I grow up.’” Do remember the spots I am talking about? They had a child saying what they wanted to be when they grew up and then ended with that line.

Truth be told it isn’t just drugs that rob us of the life that we want to have. Then again that isn’t the real issue, the issue is becoming the person that God created us to be. The life we think is best isn’t necessarily the life that we need. The great thinker and writer C. S. Lewis wrote, “When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy” (The Problem of Pain).

There are so many choices that we can make that lead us away from the abundant life God created us to live. We spend our lives chasing after things of little value and then wonder why our lives seem empty and unfulfilling.

Only by a constant pursuit to become the person God created us to be do we find the life that satisfies our heart’s deepest desires. God has designed us for a purpose and has decided that there is a purpose behind our lives, but we can only fulfill our design if we are true to our calling.

The Apostle Paul is a hero of mine. Partly because I carry his name and partly because of his passion to live out God’s call on his life. Even before his conversion we see this passion at work as he hunted down and arrested Christ-Followers. He was doing what he believed God wanted him to do.

This passion led Paul though many experiences. He had many successes as well as many defeats. He knew hungry and he knew a full stomach. He had many companions and he had many enemies. Paul experienced God at work in his life as he passionately pursued to fulfill God’s calling on his life.

Towards the end of the book of Acts we read about Paul’s decision to go to Jerusalem. People told him not to go because they knew what would happen to Paul if he went: he would be arrested and possibly killed. Yet Paul knew God had called him to go to Jerusalem and face whatever hardship awaited there. This is what Paul told the Ephesian elders before his trip:

And now I am going to Jerusalem, drawn there irresistibly by the Holy Spirit, not knowing what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit has told me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love (Acts 20:22-24; NLT).

Did you catch where the source of meaning is for our lives? A life of significance is found in doing the work given to us by Jesus. Paul was willing to risk jail and suffering because he knew that only by following Jesus did his life have worth, and if that path led to his death then he would go because his life stood for something eternal.

None of us wants our lives to go to waste, but life comes at us and we make a choice, and that choice takes us a little further away from the life God wants us to live. Soon we find ourselves trapped in a life that is devoid of meaning and we feel like we merely exist rather than being truly alive. At this point we only have one option and that is to take a risk and follow Jesus into the great unknown of the future. If we hope to have a life of significance this is where it begins.

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