This evening, I sat looking at the family picture of a dear friend. We go a few years back together, back on campus I knew him to be quite influential in his own little circle. He had some music skills but did want to forfeit a corporate career for anything, not even music. Today, roughly 8 years after graduation, he is happily married with kids and doing ‘fine’ in his corporate career. But as I sat to look at his recent pictures, I could see a deep look in his eyes. It’s not the kind of look you see with just one glance, no, actually it’s not even the look you see with the ordinary eyes. You need special eyes to identify this look.
As I looked beyond the smiles on the faces and the happy look of a socially successful and upwardly mobile 21st century young and promising family, I could see and feel a layer of shallowness and ordinariness scream out from their eyes. It’s that look that says “hey, I’m getting frustrated with my life because it is becoming too normal”. That look that asks the question “so what more is there to live for? I’ve got a job, I’ve got a good family, it seems I’ve got a life, and I’ve got everything I thought would make me happy, but there seems to be something fundamental missing, but I just can’t place my fingers on what it is”. I could see that look, I recognized it as soon as I saw it. Words didn’t speak it but it was there screaming out of the portraits.
Sadly, this is not only happening to my dear friend. It is happening to several young and promising families, many of whom know God and as a result have prayed their way into ‘blessings’, the only sad thing is that the real meaning of blessing was missed. We have interpreted blessing to mean every good thing life has to offer to make us satisfied and comfortable, with the hopes and expectation that these will give us a fulfilled lives. We have held God to the ransom until He has met all our prayers and requests for these blessings, only to realize that it was all a decoy. Our generation has been deceived into thinking that ‘success’ as we define it is the essence and purpose of life. Sad.
But I have also seen the other end of the bench though. Where you see the look in someone’s eyes and without taking a second glance, you see fulfillment, satisfaction and joy. You hear his looks scream “I love my life.” And most times, these people may not be celebrities or those whose lives one may immediately tag as successful, but these are the real people having a field day every single day of their lives. And I have paused severally to ask the question “so what makes the difference?” The answer is simple. Grandness of purpose.
As long as your life is centered around yourself, you are bound to live a frustrated life. Life was meant to be lived for a grander purpose, to be part of something really bigger than us. When your life becomes a small part of a bigger cause and purpose, you live each day feeling relevant to something. You strive everyday to make a mark or to protect the cause for which you live. That gives meaning to life. That gives relevance to your day. You do not see another day as another cycle of drudgery, but as an opportunity to hit new marks, take new risks and break new grounds. When a man is living in this realm, it shows in everything he does, including in his smile.
Sadly, we have been made to think that we can create this grander purpose for ourselves, and so we set lofty goals, attempt bigger projects and start new ones, seek to change jobs, go for bigger things, all in an empty search for relevance and purpose. We fail to realize that before we were formed, we were meant to be part of something really really grand – God’s purpose on earth. We see that as too small a cause to join and seek to build our own empires and hopefully impress men while using God. It shows in our prayers, in how we spend our money and in the kind of things we do. No wonder the endless chase never delivers the satisfaction we so direly seek for.
I have made the cross-over in my own life from one end of the bench to the other, and I can say, it is like night and day. When I see people struggling to make their lives look relevant by the kind of job they do, cars they drive, houses they own or even results they achieve in titles, inventions and honors, I just see emptiness, and I ask myself, why won’t these guys just try getting involved in God’s global purpose for a week and see their lives turnaround? Fulfillment is not based on what anybody thinks of us, it’s something only us can feel. Right now, I have made it my life job help people make the cross-over, to move from living shallow empty lives to grand meaningful lives. That way, when I look at their faces in pictures, I hope to see the shallowness of purposelessness replaced by the smile of fulfillment that says, “hey, even if my life ends today, I’ve lived it for something significant”
What end of the bench are you on?