My Search for Meaning in Life and How I Found It
I’ve always been a pretty analytical person. As a kid, it wasn’t enough to take something apart to see how it worked – I wanted to know why it worked. Even in my early teens, I saw life as a process of being born, giving birth to the next generation, and then dying. It was frustrating to think that life was nothing more than this repetitive cycle. Fame and fortune seemed to offer potential happiness, but as desirable as happiness is, it seemed like a shallow purpose to live for. Living for a cause like helping the poor, curing cancer, or bringing about world peace sounded good, but still left the question unanswered: Why does helping people be healthy and happy matter if we’re nothing more than cosmic dust anyway? If I’m nothing more than a collection of molecules, why do I care about life or death, right or wrong, happiness or anger, dignity or disgrace, or anything else? But the fact remains: I do care.
Finding the Answer
I grew up attending church and learning all the stories in the Bible. I had lots of instruction about what I should and shouldn’t do, but I never heard a satisfactory explanation of why it mattered – at least beyond the immediate and obvious consequences of my behavior.
When I was 14, my cousin invited me to attend a weekly Monday night gathering of Christian students. The little attic room above a veterinarian’s clinic was packed with dozens of young people, singing, sharing stories, praying, and studying the Bible together. I was attracted to the people and curious about their motivations. The second time I went, an ex-Jehovah’s Witness shared his story about why he became a Christian. As he spoke, I recognized that life only makes sense in a context that is bigger than life. The context that gives life meaning is that we were created by God, and the reason He created us was to demonstrate His amazing love.
Many of the Bible verses I had learned started to make sense in that context. I understood that while God is holy and perfect, He created man with the ability to choose between love and self-centered pride. Love is demonstrating God’s character by caring for others more than ourselves. Pride doesn’t care about others but produces all manner of evil as it seeks its own interests. But every person sins (fails to live up to God’s standards), and because justice is a key part of God’s character He can’t just ignore our sin; a price has to be paid – like the way a criminal has to serve time for his crimes. But because of God’s love, He provided a way for us to be forgiven for our sins so that we can experience His love as He intended. And the way that He provided – the only way to be forgiven for every failure we could possibly commit – was by God himself, Jesus Christ, dying on a cross to pay the penalty for our sin on our behalf. Accepting this amazing gift from God is the only way to begin living a truly meaningful life. But it gets better: Not only did He die in our place, He came back to life, proving that death is not the final end — we can continue to live in heaven after our earthly bodies die.
The Journey Continues
Not every question was answered in that moment when I recognized my significance could be found in serving the God who created me. But that glimpse of truth made me want to accept the gift that Jesus offered and commit to follow Him. I was willing to let the unanswered questions go on faith for the time being. But now that I had my internal compass pointed in the right direction, I started studying the Bible to learn all I could about God and how He wants me to live a life that pleases Him. The truths that make sense out of life’s mysteries continue to be unearthed like precious gems as I get to know God better.
There are many questions that keep people from believing in God: Why would a loving God allow evil things to happen? Is the Bible true? Is Jesus really God, and did He really rise from the dead? If God is both good and powerful, why aren’t Christians perfect? How could God possibly forgive the horrible things I’ve done? Why would a loving God let people go to hell? These are good questions, and the answers are available to those who honestly apply themselves to seeking truth.
But for me, behind these questions was a bigger issue: I knew that admitting there is a God was admitting that someone other than me was in control. And I wanted to control my own life.
Our need to be in control stems from fear and pride. Fear that bad things might happen if we’re not in control, and pride that we can handle things on our own. The problem is that these are lies. After 40+ years of following God, I can assure you that there is nothing to fear except the consequences of not giving God control. He gives us the strength and ability to do everything He asks of us. And pride is the greatest deception of all. When we humble ourselves before God, He lifts us to greater heights than we could ever achieve on our own.
Where Do You Stand?
Are you satisfied with the significance of your life? If not, what are you doing about it?What holds you back from believing that the Bible has the answer? Isn’t the reason you exist an important question to answer before you spend the rest of your life in meaningless pursuits?
What Will You Choose?
Regardless of your past, you can begin a meaningful life with God right now. No special words or rituals required, just tell Him you believe that Jesus Christ is God and accept the forgiveness He offers you. While you’re talking to God (we call it “praying”), ask Him to help you find other believers to connect with. We need each other to help us along our journey. Then start reading the Bible. I suggest looking in the table of contents for “John” and start reading there rather than at the beginning. It’s online at (https://www.bible.com/bible/59/jhn.1.esv). If some things don’t make sense at first, just keep reading – it will come together later.
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