I was fascinated with an interview I watched on ABC TV when Kerry O’Brien interviewed Woody Allen who had just celebrated his 73rd birthday. Maybe you saw it. It was quite a long interview and I was very interested in some of Woody Allen’s responses, especially about life.
He said “I’m spiritually empty and never found any consolation in life. Success didn’t do anything for me. I live a lonely life but you learn nothing about the important things in life, like why I’m here. No real wisdom comes from age. Age is a bad thing – it’s all negative”. This saddened me somewhat as I looked at a celebrity of such status known throughout the world for his creative genius in the entertainment world. Yet he obviously struggles with finding meaning in his life. Have you ever felt like that?
You’re not alone if you feel this way.
I suspect millions of people world-wide are experiencing these feelings. You wouldn’t know it, of course. Too many of us are good at hiding their innermost feelings of insecurity and fear.
The truth is that most people are completely perplexed when it comes to living their lives with a great feeling of purpose. But it is possible for you to realize what it is you were placed here on Earth to do.
In fact, letting your inner soul accept as true that you were born for a purpose is one of the preliminary steps to understanding your purpose and finding meaning in life. Unfortunately much of life says “you’re expendable – we can do without you”.
There’s a sense of separation and solitude. But you’re much more than that. You are special. You were born for a reason. This can be hard to acknowledge especially if you believe “things” are the most important values, or success and money. Like Woody Allen too many of us have not found any consolation in life and I think that’s sad. People find themselves feeling drained, still attempting to find some sense of purpose or meaning.
I want to say that without God, we lose any transcendent purpose for the universe in which we live or our individual lives.
We’re nothing more than bugs struggling with survival until we die. All the achievements, the sacrifices, the good and beautiful efforts of people, the ugly and dark acts of people, are ultimately futile things of life. Without God, we also lose any possibility for life after death.
When you remove the hope of heaven, you remove the ultimate value and purpose of life. What difference would it really make whether we lived like a Billy Graham or an Osama Bin Laden? Everyone’s fate would be the same anyway. This is the hopeless outlook of those who base their belief system on materialism, naturalism and the presupposition that life on earth is all there is.
But there is an answer with God.
Is there meaning to Life? The answer to this question cannot come from human intelligence or reason, but only from the Creator himself who transcends our material world. But God does exist, and if you believe that, it means we really do have a transcendent purpose, and really do have meaning for our lives.
Not only do we find day-to-day significance in our lives, but an ultimate significance through our hope in eternal life.
If God exists, we remove the moral relativism that pervades today’s society, and we replace it with a standard of absolute right and wrong residing in the character of God Himself.
This gives our day-to-day choices significance too. God gave us the ability to choose whether we live by His moral laws or by whatever values we assign to ourselves through our own reason. As we find, we are not mere robots placed on this earth by God. Rather, we have absolute free will to follow what He says or not. We can either recognize God as the Creator of the universe, or we can deny that He exists. We can choose to live a meaningless life or a life with absolute and eternal purpose.
Purpose of life. Do I have a specific purpose? We’ve heard it called the rat race – that endless treadmill where people exhaust themselves in pursuit of money, prestige, power, or fame. Some of us climb aboard just to escape the boredom of daily existence – only to find ourselves unable to stop running as we look for the purpose of life.
What we are really looking for is something to fill a void that is in each one of us – a vacuum that is put there by God and can be filled only by Him. It is God’s way of making sure each of us – even those who don’t believe in Him – keep searching until we find Him and the purpose of life He has for us. King Solomon, who was granted unsurpassed wisdom by God, lamented after years of experimentation: “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).
But then he concludes, in Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” The Bible tells us that all of creation revolves around God’s will. He created the heavens and the earth and He created each of us. We reside in a universe that to us seems bounded by time and space, but which to God is totally accessible. All of the Bible either lays the groundwork for our worship of God and our salvation through Jesus Christ or details how we are to respond to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
So the meaning of life becomes: How do we get in that game?
For the unbeliever, it can start with a simple, honest prayer: “God, if you are there, please help me. I don’t know what to believe. I’m not happy with my life and the things I’ve achieved. Please help me have the faith to start walking with you.”
God, in His faithfulness, will use even this tiny overture to begin working in our lives.
Jesus himself said in Matthew 17:20, “…I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'” Once we have decided to pursue God, there are many tools that will help us. We may read and interpret His word in Scripture. We may pray for His continued guidance. We may try to do His work in our daily lives.
For the unbeliever, it can start with a simple, honest prayer: “God, if you are there,” As we lift up our circumstances – good and bad – to God in prayer, we will find things improving. Some problems God will simply take away from us – anxieties about things we cannot control, desires for things we should not want (addictions) are good examples. Some things God will send back for us to work on – broken relationships where we are partly at fault, missions God has given us that we have tried to ignore. Some things God will fix – healing sickness, removing evil influences from our lives, redirecting us away from situations we thought we would never resolve.
The more we listen to God, the better we will know His voice. We can get plenty of practice by reading scripture and paying special attention to those passages we don’t understand – or don’t like. These passages offer huge signposts to all the areas of our life.