Friday, September 12, 2014
A Meaningful Life
I spent time researching dead relatives lately. It sounds morbid, but I wanted to learn more about my natural family history.In this age of the internet and digital scanning, it is amazing what you can find. I scanned old newspapers for the names of family members that I wanted to learn more about, and searched to find snippets about them. One thing I learned was that my great grandfather accidentally shot off one hand, which then had to be amputated. I didn't know that. His hardware business sadly failed, and I found the ad that advertised selling off the hardware after his death. All that was left of his being a "major merchant" in his small town.
I typed in the names of some of my aunts and great aunts and uncles. I found they attended church functions, some poured tea, some played hymns. I read reports of visitors coming in from out of state and staying in their homes. (Yes, that was big news back then.) Interspersed among these stories were recipes, old fashioned advertising, a sense of a time of nostalgia somehow lost to our modern computer age. People read the papers back then, there were not a million other stories, movies, games and channels competing for their attention. People actually talked to each other, and didn't stare at their phones all day.
And yet as I searched for little nuggets about their lives, I struggled with a sense of despair about the meaning of it all. I saw pictures of them as children, little faces full of hope in antiquated photos, and then visited them as they lived in worn out bodies decades later,still hanging on to their dignity until the end. For we are made in the image of God. Lifetimes pass so quickly, and all that was left to their memory were tiny blips in the local paper about goings on in a little town in the Midwest while the planet continues to spin in a huge universe far beyond it. What makes our lives worthwhile?
My aunts and uncles had dreams, I am told, but most of them never got further than that small town. Not so my Dad. The youngest of eight children, he was the only one who went to college and left the community. He wanted something more than the little town in the Midwest had to offer. He became a very successful businessman. That didn't make him any better than them, just different, not really understood by them.
And yet isn't that what we all want? To be understood? To be validated? To be told, "Yes, your life is important." We seek that from each other, but the only one who can really give it to us is God.
And that is exactly what He offers each and every one of us. It doesn't matter where we live: in a small town or a big city. It doesn't matter how much money we make or how fancy a car we drive. It doesn't matter if we are famous in Hollywood or obscure, with no one knowing our name. The thing that could make their lives significant, and that can make any life significant is the fact that God Almighty, the Creator of the universe, actually wants, longs to have a relationship with us, us. We can do nothing for Him to benefit Him but still He loves us and wants to be our Shepherd. (Psalm 23) He even longs for us jealously! He doesn't want us to have idols because He knows that only He can make us happy. Nothing else in this world can. Nothing. This offer of an eternal love relationship with God is enough to make any life worthwhile, no matter what the circumstances,no matter what time we live in.
For God existed in all glory forever in heaven with His Father but at a certain point in time, the perfect point in time, He decided to step down from that royal privilege and live a life just like we do on this planet. He knew hunger, fatigue, loneliness, just like my dead relatives and just like I experience today. He thought that we were worth the trouble of Him dying for us. He lived the life here perfectly, took on all our sins, offers us new resurrection life with Him forever, so that our days also can have meaning even if it seems hopeless all around us. He is the Hope, our only hope.
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
"To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."