What On Earth Am I Here For?
-an article for the Nov 2004 Deep Cove Crier
In Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland, Young Alice encounters the Cheshire Cat during her frantic attempt to find her way through an impenetrable forest.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” Alice cries.
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” the grinning Cat answers.
“I don’t much care where” – a lost and confused Alice says.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” says the Cat, who soon thereafter vanishes – all except for its toothy grin...
Many people today, just like Alice in Wonderland, have lost their sense of direction. As Rick Warren puts it in the ‘40 Days of Purpose’, people are struggling with three basic questions:
1) The question of existence - Why am I alive?
2) The question of significance - Does my life matter?
3) The question of intention - What is my purpose in life?
In his 19-million New York Times best-seller “The Purpose-Driven Life”, Rick Warren talks about Dr. Hugh Moorehead, a philosophy professor at Northeastern Illinois University. A while back Dr. Moorehead wrote to 250 of the best-known philosophers and intellectuals of the day. 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. Isaac Asimov said this, "As far as I can see, there is no purpose."
Bertrand Russell, one of the most famous philosophers of the 20th century and an atheist said, "Unless you assume the existence of God, the question of life's meaning and purpose is irrelevant." As Rick Warren puts it, “If there is no God, if we are a freak chance of nature, if we are just complex pond scum, then guess what? Your life does not matter.”
Without knowing your real purpose, life will seem tiresome, unfulfilling, and uncontrollable. The famous 19th century speaker Billy Sunday said that more men fail through lack of purpose than lack of talent. People who don’t know their purpose try to do too much – and that causes stress, fatigue, and conflict. It is impossible to do everything people want you to do.
As the Purpose-Driven Life book puts it, “Nothing matters more than knowing God’s purposes for your life, and nothing can compensate for not knowing them – not success, wealth, fame, or pleasure. Without a purpose, life is motion without meaning, activity without direction, and events without reason. Without a purpose, life is trivial, petty, and purposeless.”
Looking within to try to discover one’s purpose usually just leaves us more confused. The bottom line is that only the creator or perhaps the manufacturer’s handbook can reveal something’s real purpose. I remember a poster in my math class saying: ‘When all else fails, read the instructions’. Being one who didn’t like to read instructions, it was many years before I bothered to read the manufacturer’s handbook for life, otherwise called the Bible. I was shocked to discover that “ everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible…everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Jesus.” Colossians 1:16
Discovering our purpose in life has tremendous benefits. Knowing your purpose will give your life focus, clarity, and fresh motivation. Purpose always produces passion. Nothing energizes like a clear purpose.
You are extremely important to God’s plan; otherwise he wouldn’t have given you life. God made each of us for a certain reason so that we have a purpose to play. Rick Warren in his bestseller said: “If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by His purpose and for His purpose.”
When you live a purpose-driven life, you begin to see life as far more meaningful than you ever imagined. You begin to see life as more than just about getting through the next day. Life is preparation for eternity. When you live in light of eternity, your values change. You place a higher premium on relationships and character instead of fame or wealth or achievements or even fun.
The opening line in the book ‘Purpose-Driven Life’ is” “It’s not about you”. When we meet Jesus Christ on a personal basis, the question becomes: “Who are you going to live for? You or God?” My prayer for our Seymour/Deep Cove community is that each of us will discover meaning, purpose, and significance through God that will energize us for an abundant, unshakable life.
The Reverend Ed Hird
Rector, St. Simon’s North Vancouver
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St. Simon's Anglican Church
North Vancouver, B.C.