Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
You know what it’s like when you try to phone someone, and you’re invited to leave a message on their answering machine. The person usually leaves a recorded message, and then you can respond with an answer.
But imagine something different today. Suppose you phoned a number, and a recorded voice said to you:
This is not an answering machine—this is a questioning machine. There are only two questions in life that are relevant. I want to ask you: ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What do you want?’ Most people who phone me do not know the answer to these questions. Please give your answer at the sound of the tone.
I think this is a most interesting and intriguing set of questions—ones we need to consider quite often during our life. Who am I and what do I want? They are basic questions, aren’t they? I’m reminded of this in the musical Les Misérables and Jean Valjean’s piercing question: Who am I?
Who am I?
Can I conceal myself forevermore?
Pretend I’m not the man I was before?
And must my name until I die,
Be no more than an alibi?
Must I lie?
How can I ever face my fellowmen?
How can I ever face myself again?
My soul belongs to God I know.
I made that bargain long ago.
He gave me hope when hope was gone,
He gave me strength to journey on.
Who am I?
What Defines Us As a Person?
It is a powerful song and, worth mentioning in this contet, it is the most fundamental of all questions. Who am I? Usually, the first thing we respond to is giving our name. At birth you are given a name and when you die your name is inscribed on something as a permanent memory to your life.
It’s easier to dodge a question like this and get on with life—and yet it can be a haunting question, and one that I think must be resolved. If you don’t know who you are, how can life make any sense?
- What makes me, me?
- What makes me special and unique?
- What gives me value and worth?
The great conductor Sir Michael Costa was leading a rehearsal, with a vast array of musicians and hundreds of voices. As the mighty chorus rang out with the thunder of the organ, the roll of the drums, the horns ringing and the cymbals clashing, the piccolo player stopped playing. Sitting in the corner of the orchestra, he said to himself, In all this noise it matters not what I do. Suddenly the great conductor stopped, flung up his hands and all was still. He then cried out aloud, “Where is the piccolo?” All was spoiled because the piccolo failed to take its part. Each one of us is valuable, and loved by God.
Why am I alive? It’s not a new question. In fact, Jeremiah the Prophet answered this question over 2,000 years ago. In the Bible he said:
Why was I born?
Was it only to have trouble and sorrow,
to end my life in disgrace? (Jeremiah 20:18 – GNT)
There have probably been times in your life when you have felt that way. Was I born just to have a bunch or problems? Was I put on this planet just to have heartache and grief and stress? Author Ashleigh Brilliant wrote, “My life is a superb cast, but I can’t figure out the plot.” Jack Handley said, “I hope life isn’t a joke because I don’t get it.”
What Is the Meaning of Life?
Dr Hugh Moorehead is a philosophy professor at Northeastern Illinois University and a while back he wrote to 250 of the best-known philosophers and intellectuals of the day. And he asked them a simple question: What is the meaning of life? He then published their responses. Some offered guesses. Some admitted that they made up a purpose. Others wrote him back and said, “Dr Moorehead, if you have an answer to this, would you please let us know?” And some made very pessimistic responses.
One of the world’s notable people said, “As far as I can see, there is no purpose.” A life without purpose is not worth living, and it is no wonder that the suicide rate in our society has gone up even today.
I love what David prayed in Psalm 139:
You are the one
who put me together
inside my mother’s body,
and I praise you
the wonderful way
you created me.
Everything you do is marvelous!
Of this I have no doubt. (Psalm 139:13-14 – CEV).
You Have a Purpose
The Bible says that the eternal God gives me meaning and worth as a person. I am his child—I am significant and have a purpose; that’s who I am. Our true identity comes from God himself. He is the One who created you. He saw you being formed in your mother’s womb. What a wonderful and inspiring thought!
This means my personhood is not something we earn. It is not something we make for ourselves or give to ourselves. It is not something we can take credit for. Our identity comes from God and not from our parents, or our friends, or our grades, or our jobs.
The starting point is that I am not an accident: I am made by God. And that makes me God’s masterpiece; everyone of us is God’s masterpiece because we have been made by God. To fully understand this we have to go back to Genesis 1, the first book in the Bible. It tells us about creation. And over and over again it uses the word ‘good’ to describe what God has made. It becomes clear that God did not make junk. Seven times God pronounces that his creation, the work of his hands, is good. “God saw all that he had made and it was very good,” says the end of the creation account (Gen 1:31). Included in this goodness is humankind. We are part of God’s good creation.
“Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.” (The Message)
What a wonderful verse. God made you to love you. Fill in that blank. I was created to be loved by God. That’s one major reason that you are on this earth for. You were created to be loved by God. God is love. Love creates and God created you. He didn’t need you. He wasn’t lonely, but he wanted to love you. That’s why you are here, to be loved by God.