Do you remember this anti-drug PSA?
Truth be told drugs aren’t the only thing that robs us of the life we want to live. Then again, living the life we want to live isn’t the real issue when it comes to living.
The real issue is becoming the person that God created us to be. Too often the life we think is best isn’t the life that we need. The great thinker and writer C. S. Lewis wrote, “When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy” (The Problem of Pain).
There are many choices that we make that lead us away from the abundant life God created us to live. Some of these choices are good things, some of them are urgent things, and some of them are frivolous things. We spend much of our lives chasing after things which add little value to our lives, and then we wonder why our lives seem empty and unfulfilling.
Only by a constant pursuit to become the person God created us to be do we find the life that satisfies our heart’s deepest desires. God has designed us for a purpose and He placed a calling on our hearts, but we can only fulfill our design if we live out that calling.
The Apostle Paul is a hero of mine. One reason I love Paul is because I carry his name, and that reality has helped shape my purpose. A second reason I love Paul is because the passion he had to live out God’s call. Even before his conversion we see this passion at work as he hunted down and arrested Christians. Paul was doing precisely what he believed God wanted him to do.
This passion led Paul though many experiences. He had successes as well as defeats. He knew hunger and he knew a full stomach. He had many companions and he had many enemies. Paul experienced God at work in his life as he passionately pursued to fulfill God’s calling on his life.
Towards the end of the book of Acts we read about Paul’s decision to go to Jerusalem. People told him not to go because they knew what would happen to Paul if he went: he would be arrested and possibly killed. Yet, Paul knew God had called him to go to Jerusalem and face whatever hardship awaited there. This is what Paul told the Ephesian elders before his trip:
And now I am going to Jerusalem, drawn there irresistibly by the Holy Spirit, not knowing what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit has told me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love (Acts 20:22-24; NLT).
Did you catch where the source of meaning is for our lives? For Paul, and I believe for us, a life of significance is found in doing the work given to us by Jesus. Paul risked jail and suffering because he knew that only by following Jesus did his life have worth, and that was true even if the path led to his death. Death was powerless to take away the significance Jesus had placed on Paul’s life.
None of us want our lives to go to waste. We don’t intentionally set off to waste our lives, but life happens and we are faced with a choice. If we don’t choose wisely, those small choices take us a little further away from the life God desires us to live. Soon we find ourselves trapped in a life that is devoid of meaning, and we feel like we merely exist rather than being truly alive.
At this point we only have one option, and that is to take a risk and follow Jesus where he calls. What is that calling Jesus has placed on your heart? Only by answering that call can you have the life of significance you long to live.