What is the Meaning of Life?
Most people don't spend the day discussing this casually with friends over coffee; it's not exactly an off-handed mention tucked in between the weather and their weekend plans. At our school, our 12th grade Bible curriculum includes watching the Truth Project. This series is phenomenal. I've seen this 12-part series at least 8 times, and it never, never gets old. It is the best summation of a comprehensive Christian worldview that I've ever seen.
For a full week, we set up something of a 'retreat on campus' for the seniors. No uniforms, no classes, lunch and coffee provided. A time to treat them like the adults they are becoming as we go through the series with them.
Today, one of the topics was the meaning of life. Looking at history. Our lives. Our existence on planet Earth. What is the point of it all? Why are we here?
But isn't that really the question that most people would love the answer to but are too afraid to ask? Or are too afraid of the answer?
There are lots of explanations out there, depending on what you believe about a few key areas: the existence of God, whether we were created or evolved, the reality of overarching meta-narratives, the purpose of our existence - both as individuals and as the human race.
If a person really thinks about this long enough, it's enough to keep him awake at night.
For me, I believe God exists and that we are specially created by Him (not evolved). We aren't accidents of nature or the result of a random chance of events. Each of us was lovingly and carefully designed and planned by God.
I believe that history is really God's Story - and I don't meant that as just a cute cliche. I believe history has a beginning and yes, an end, too - pre-ordained by God. History is not just reactionary nor is it randomly spiraling through time until we blow ourselves up. God will bring all human history to a conclusion someday, culminating with each of us in our eternal destinies. I 100% believe this.
And in this Story during our time on earth, I believe that we have a part to play. That's why we are here. That's the meaning of our lives: God has actually scripted us in to have a significant role in history, in His eternal, cosmic purposes.
Yes, little old us.
We actually get to choose if we will play our part. Or, we can choose to write our own stories. Yes, we have that choice.
So, what does this mean?
As a society, we love the freedom and relish of writing our own stories. We love being masters of our own destinies, creating our own mini-sagas that have ourselves as the lead actors and actresses. I admit, there is something alluring to that - that our destinies are in our own hands.
But is that really reality? Do we really have as much control over the details of our lives as we think we do? Sure, hard work can get you a lot, but there are certain things we cannot force to happen, no matter how hard we try. What about the things we have no control over? What about death and tragedy and fatal diseases? Failed dreams? Unmet expectations? Betrayal and injustice? I'll speak personally - what about infertility? What about when our plans go south? Do we really have that much control of our own stories?
The idea of writing our own stories sounds glamorous, but it's a little precarious, if you ask me.
However, there is another option: we can choose to let go of the pen and let Him write our story into His Story.
So, what does THAT mean?
It means we give up our rights to write own story. It means we let Him determine what our roles will be. We become willing to play the part He wants us to play, whether it's the best supporting actress or the guy who sweep the theatre when the show is done (We are never the Star, by the way. There's only One of those).
We trust the role He gives us because we are confident in His goodness. Because we know there is something bigger and grander going on than just our own small story. And we are willing to give up our small story to have a part in The Big One.
This can be scary; it's unknown; it's unpredictable. It may not be what we would have dreamed of as a kid. It's downright unnerving, this not being in control (even if it is only an illusion).
So, why in the world would someone choose to let go of his own story and choose God's?