Monday, April 9, 2012
A Meaningful Life?
I guess it was inevitable. I'm getting to the reflective point in my life where I say to myself, "Self, are you ever going to amount to anything?" I wonder if it's because I'm a spoiled, only child that I am so absorbed with my own accomplishments. You see, I'm of the era where Dr. Spock (not Mr. Spock) ruled with a soothing voice. The iron-fisted method of raising children was passe, you see. You didn't want to hurt the little darlings' egos, did you? Everyone gets a trophy. Everyone wins a ribbon. Encourage the heck out of them. Tell them they can do anything. Can accomplish anything. Well, that's hogwash.
I'll never be President. I'll never go to the moon, or even to outer space. I'll never sail the world. I'll never (fill in the blank here). I'll never make the cover of People magazine (guess that's a good thing). Heck, I'll never even go around the world (too expensive). It's easy to sit around and dwell on the things I'll never do or can't do. I'll hit the double-nickle this year. Yep, I'll be 55 years old in August. So I can't, in all fairness, refer to myself as middle-aged. How many 110 year old people do you know running around, after all? My bones creak and ache. I dread the thought of exercise, although I know I desperately need it. I am tired; continually exhausted with the daily grind of life. I need, no, I'm gasping for the endurance and patience that God has promised me. I long for a close, true friend, just one, with whom I can share all things and with whom I can be totally transparent.
Watching the Masters yesterday, I was struck by the realization that Bubba Watson has never taken a golf lesson, doesn't have a coach and has never watched his swing on video. He's what they call a "natural". He shouldn't be able to do what he does, but he does. I toy with the idea of taking up golf, tennis, or something but then laughably acknowledge that I'm far too uncoordinated to do anything like that! Always the scrawny kid - always the last one picked for a team - always the easy out. That's me.
Do we all reach the age or the realization that we'll never be significant, except to a handful of people? Is anybody else disappointed with that realization, or is it just me? I think of the billions of people on this planet today who will be born, will live and die in relative obscurity. Is it just an American obsession with significance? Is is a modern-day evolution of the psyche that we grope for significance? How long has navel-gazing been an acceptable pastime?
This whole thought process swelled from my reading in Colossians this morning. The prayer that is encompassed in Chapter 1, verses 9 through 14 is a perfect example of a prayer we should pray for other believers and also for ourselves. Neither Paul nor Timothy planted the church at Colosse, but their friend, Epaphras, had established the church there. But their reputation -- the way they were living their lives, their faith, their love for each other -- had reached Paul and Timothy. Paul prayed a "proscuno prayer" for that church; a fall on your face kind of prayer - a worshipful prayer - for that church. He prayed that they would have "epignosis" - full discernment - of God's will for them.
I want epignosis. Don't you? I want someone to pray a proscuno prayer for me. I want to be controlled by and filled with the full knowledge and discernment of God's will for me. Why? Verse 10 tells us - "in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God". Paul goes on to say that we should be strengthened with ALL power. The Greek word he uses here is where we get our word for dynamite. All power, huh? Explosive, tremendous power. The kind that implodes buildings, blows the tops off mountains, and rattles the windows for miles around.
Live a life worthy of the Lord. Please Him in every way. Bear fruit (teach and disciple others). Grow in the knowledge of God. Is that the secret? Is that what countless others have learned that I'm just now beginning to grasp? Is that all there is to this Life?
Does it matter that I'm only significant to a few around me? As long as I'm living a life worthy of the high calling of Christ, then that's enough. As long as I'm being faithful and BOLD to tell others about Jesus and His loving sacrifice for them, teaching others, and growing in my own knowledge of God and his mercies, then that's enough. As far as endurance and patience go, He has qualified me to share in His inheritance. "Qualified" here means that it's a done deal. His past actions on the cross have assured the future result of my standing before God.
As far as my children go, and for a few others around me, I long to be significant to them. Not for any personal accomplishment, but significant in my passion for Christ. With great strength, He rescued me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of the Son he loves. The one who laughs at his or her need for God is the one who is living a meaningless life. An insignificant life.
Let's just hope I can remember this lesson the next time I'm groping for some significance in my own life. I've got a feeling this is a lesson I'll be learning each and every day. Until I'm 110.