“Unique among living species, human life is aware of itself, yet we find ourselves in a world that doesn’t explain itself. So we’re impelled to ask why things are as they are and how we fit in. What gives life to life? Why is there something rather than nothing? Deep inside us we know the facts of the matter are not the end of the matter. So we seek a final explanation, a source of meaning that goes as far back as one can go, an ultimate answer before which all questions cease.”
“This will to find meaning is fundamental. It is ‘the primary motivational force in man,’ according to psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. ‘Meaning is not a luxury for us,’ says philosopher Dallas Willard. ‘It is a kind of spiritual oxygen, we might say, that enables our souls to live.’ Abraham Heschel expressed it from his Jewish viewpoint: ‘It is not enough for me to be able to say ‘I am’; I want to know who I am and in relation to whom I live. It is not enough for me to ask questions; I want to know how to answer the one question that seems to encompass everything I face: What am I here for?’” (Long Journey Home: A Guide to Your Search For the Meaning of Life,” Os Guinness).
3 Requirements for a fulfilled life:
- A clear sense of personal identity: Who am I?
- A strong sense of personal mission: Why am I here?
- A deep sense of life’s meaning: What is the purpose of it all?
If we settle for superficial answers to these questions, we’ll be disappointed and perhaps turn to a cynical or delusional life.
A cut and bleeding soul
Describing his frustration, Augustine wrote: “I carried about me a cut and bleeding soul, that could not bear to be carried by me, and where I could put it, I could not discover. Not in pleasant groves, not in games and singing, nor in the fragrant corners of a garden. Not in the company of a dinner table, not in the delights of the bed: not even in my books and poetry. It floundered in a void and fell back on me. I remained a haunted spot, which gave me no rest, from which I could not escape. For where could my heart flee from my heart? Where could I escape myself? Where would I not dog my own footsteps?”
Our hearts are restless until…
Recall the prayer of Augustine: “Dear Lord, You have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.” Here is the answer we need and that shapes identity, mission and meaning.
“At the funeral of his father, management consultant Charles Handy suddenly realized how this modest man had affected the lives of hundreds in ways he had never imagined. “I realized that what one believes about life, and the point of life, does matter. I had put my faith, until that moment, in success, money, and family, probably in that order. I still think these things are important, although I would now reverse the order, but I hanker after a bigger frame in which to put them.” (Long Journey Home: A Guide to Your Search For the Meaning of Life,” Os Guinness).
This describes most people. They are missing the larger frame of life—into which all of life fits. And what is that larger frame? It is taking ownership and personal application of the way God describes His people in Isaiah 43:20b-21: “I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.
We belong to God—He formed us for Himself. We exist to glorify Him—to declare His praise. Look at Isaiah 26:8. “Yes, LORD, …..we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” This text is the basis for a movement known as Generation 268. Adopting Isaiah 26:8 as the defining purpose of their lives, these mostly young people confess: “Lord, Your Name and Renown are the desire of our hearts.” They’re saying, “We exist for You God– for Your glory, honor and praise!”
Lifted from the horizontal:
This is the “why” of life and it clarifies and injects meaning into everything else. It lifts us from the horizontal to the vertical, from the temporal to the eternal, from the me-centered to the God-centered life! It is the larger frame to fit everything else into. “I plan to live for God and His name and renown—His glory—no matter what I do!”
3 Requirements for a fulfilled life:
- A clear sense of personal identity
- A strong sense of personal mission
- A deep sense of life’s meaning
“Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts” (Isaiah 26:8).