Funeral|Life’s Purpose? [v36]

FEBRUARY 2002

SEARCH FOR MEANING — Last week my Uncle Frank passed away. When I visited him just a few weeks ago, we talked about his life. I asked him about the things he enjoyed, his accomplishments, and the things that he wished he had more time to finish.

It got me thinking about the end of my life. Will there be things that I wished I had put more emphasis on? What kind of legacy will I leave? What kind of influence could my life have had? Essentially…is there a purpose for my life?

I think we all experience, at one time or another, the ‘nagging’ question about whether or not our life can have an adequate meaning, purpose, goal, good or end—what Aristotle called a “final cause.” Is this life an endless pursuit after ‘things’…that will never satisfy? Will I ever be able to find lasting joy and contentment?

What is the highest and greatest purpose for one’s life? Viktor Frankl, in “Man’s Search for Meaning,” calls this our primary need. Even pleasure, power, peace, and freedom can be, sacrificed—if only there is a reason, a meaning—an adequate purpose for the sacrifice.

Whether we know it or not, all of us are engaged in a quest for something that will meet the need of our heart. We all are looking for the ‘secret’ to finding delight anytime, anywhere, and under any circumstances—especially here in America. But it seems that our desires are never satisfied. Can they be?

As I ‘see’ it, the qualifications for an adequate purpose are,  (1) that it be objectively true and real, not just a subjective, artificial, invented game or fantasy and, (2) that it be an end worth striving for, for its own sake, not a means worth striving only for the sake of some other end beyond it. If there is no such final end, then there is no adequate motivation for the means to it. “The end justifies the means” indeed, though a good end does not justify a bad means. We only do something, however unconsciously, with the belief that there is, in the long run, something worth moving toward. So, one might surmise that it depends on the ‘object’ of our goal or belief.

Blaise Pascal, a seventeenth-century mathematician, scientist, and inventor said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in every life that only God can fill.” But you might say that you are not too sure that there really is a God.

I heard an illustrated that put it this way. Imagine that there are two guys that are going hunting—they’re in the woods in Northern Minnesota—in the dead of winter. One of the guys is an experienced woodsman and the other is a novice. Towards the end of the day, the experienced woodsman realizes that a storm is coming in and if they don’t get back to the lodge quickly, they could be in dire straits. So, he suggests that, without any delay, they head straight across the lake to get back to the lodge. Well, the novice is scared to death about the idea of going across that lake. He was not used to walking on ice.

Well, you could have driven an Army convoy across that ice—some 30 inches thick in the dead of winter—but the novice didn’t know that and he’s scared to death. But his buddy sets out for the lodge and he gingerly tests it out on the edge of the shore and first puts his toe and then a little bit more weight and hesitatingly makes his way and they finally get there.  Well, a few months later the same two guys are out and even though there is no storm coming and no urgency, the novice remembered the experience last time and how well that worked. He said, “Hey, on the way back let’s take the short cut, like we did last time, and go straight across the lake to the lodge.” Well, the experienced woodsman said, “No way am I getting on that ice!” The conditions were different—and the ice was not as thick as it was then. But in spite of all his persuasion, the novice decided that he was ‘confident’ that he could make it. Well, he sets out and a few feet off shore falls through the ice—and his buddy has to fish him out. Now, in the first instance, the faith of the novice was weak, but the ‘object’ was strong and solid—and he made it. But in the second instance, his faith was very strong, but it was in a lousy object and he didn’t make it. The validity of the ‘object’ is more important than the strength of the faith.

Well, since ice is a physical object and you can take a little core sample to measure how thick it is—you can find out whether it is strong enough to ‘trust.’  How do you do that in respect to God?  How do you determine whether God is a valid ‘object’ in which you can put your faith?

Well, in addition to presenting historical evidence, Pascal also asked a question in his book “Pensees” that is now referred to as “The Wager.” Says Pascal: “Either God exists, or he does not. But which of the alternatives shall we choose? Reason cannot decide anything. Infinite chaos separates us. At the far end of this infinite distance a coin is being spun which will come down heads or tails. How will you bet? Reason cannot determine how you will choose, nor can reason defend your position of choice.”

At this point Pascal challenges us to accept his wager. Simply put, the wager says we should bet on Christianity because the rewards are infinite if it’s true, while the losses will be insignificant if it’s false. If it’s true and you have rejected it, you’ve lost everything. However, if it’s false but you have believed it, at least you’ve led a good life and you haven’t lost anything.

But the unbeliever might say it’s better not to choose at all. Not so, says Pascal. You’re going to live one way or the other, believing in God or not believing in God; you can’t remain in suspended animation. You must choose.

After visiting my Uncle Frank for the afternoon, he was very tired and needed to get some rest—it was time for me to go. I had a sense that this was the last time I would see him alive.

Even after all he had gone through in the past few months, he had a ‘contentment’ and a ‘peace’ that emanated from him—and he was still telling his favorite jokes. Just before I left, he told me that he was “ready to die and go to Heaven”—that the Lord had ‘spoken’ to him and that it would not be very long now.

My Uncle Frank had completely filled that “God-shaped vacuum” and was now going to reap the benefits of trusting in Jesus Christ—eternal life!

If you find yourself continually wrestling to find a ‘way out’ of the tragedies, the troubles, and the difficulties of your life—or not sure about if there is a God and that He visited us on this Earth some 2,000 years ago—let me encourage you to do so before the ‘flame’ of your life burns out.

I am not saying that all your problems will immediately go away when you trust God. But discovering God’s plan for your life—your unique giftedness…your unique purpose—will truly allow you to live the life you were meant to live…and find that ‘elusive’ peace and contentment my Uncle Frank had.

Author Tom Paterson expressed it so eloquently when he said, “No one is given a twenty-year ‘blueprint’ for life. That would eliminate all need for daily trust…Frankly, that would make life very boring and may actually cause us to live in greater fear and dread…God seldom offers us any other assurance beyond this: He will be with us. He will lead us, and He will provide for us what is best for us. He will reveal no more that we need to know. He provides for us with sufficiency…Don’t hesitate in your pursuit of the changes you see ahead of you. God will be with you as you make them. He will assist you with all of His infinite resources: His wisdom, His strength, His discernment, His courage, His love.

The point at which our talents turn into great success is the point at which we truly dare to act, developing our gifts and turning them into active and loving service for the glory of God.

– Choose to think God’s thought about your life — Principles are the rudder of the ship of your life.
– Choose to dream God’s dreams about you — Dream a BIG dream.
– Choose to believe God’s Word to you and to trust that God is at work in you and through you — Belief will be like the wind in your sails, driving you to the distant shore of wisdom.
– Choose to dare to do God’s Will — Dare to make it happen. It will be a glorious, happy journey.

And when you are wise, you will know that there are many kinds of riches that are far more valuable than money, gold, or jewels. You won’t be disappointed.”

Blessings….
Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v36) for FEBRUARY 2002
(NOTE: Please send your ‘thoughts’ to me at: mbesh@ameritech.net)

I am glad to organize and distribute more ‘stuff’ if y’all send it to me…

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A LIGHTHOUSE
A lighthouse stands by troubled shores
To aid ships caught in storm tossed seas.
For some, the harbor is too distant,
And no one, but God, hears sailor’s pleas.

A lighthouse gives off its light to lead.
Its brilliant beam is to bring ships home;
It provides that lone, radiant warning for the ships,
Of the rocks hidden in the foam.

A lighthouse gives hope for home and shore
When the sea seemed so vast and dark.
It is the light, for which the sailors watched,
As they prayed, God would direct their bark.

A lighthouse dispels the darkness of night,
Such power can be observed from miles away.
It never tries to guide a ship aground,
Or steer a boat astray.

A lighthouse gives reason for rejoicing,
Because the shore is now in sight.
The day will now soon be dawning,
And it will guide ships through the night.

A lighthouse is a refuge for the weary,
For those tossed by angry seas;
It is for those saddened by the loss of comrades,
Who were lost along the lees.

I want to be a lighthouse,
To be all that it is and so much more;
So that I can shine for those lost in the sea of humanity,
And guide them safely to the shore.

All people need a lighthouse,
A place where they can moor;
For each of us, face dark hours in life,
And there are rocks upon the shore.

Therefore, I want to be a lighthouse,
To guide the wandering back home again;
And provide a constant source of light,
That I might save the souls of men.
[Larry Harp]

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CONTENTMENT
There are nine requisites for contented living: health enough to make work a pleasure; wealth enough to support your needs; strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them; grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them. Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished; charity enough to see some good in your neighbor; love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others; faith enough to make real the things of God; hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.
[Johann Wolfgang von Goethe]

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Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided people.  [Martin Luther King, Jr]

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WORTHY OF LOVE
Have we forgotten how to love in our hurried passage through life? Perhaps we need reminding that love focuses our attention and guides our direction. Our actions aren’t hurried and our feelings aren’t confused and unraveled when we’re loving others and ourselves. Love offers form and enhancement to each moment.

When we experience the love of another, we remember our importance, and theirs, to the circle of life, and we feel encouraged, at times even impelled, to share the enchantment of love with someone new.

When the day’s frantic activities crowd the heart’s silent places, we must slow our pace and take notice of the loved ones in our presence, there by intent, remembering with them the design that has captured us and given meaning to our lives.

Love creates music from the disharmony of our haphazard life choices. Giving it away is like a song of happiness emerging from our hearts.
[Karen Casey]

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PSALM 23 – UPDATED
(If King David lived in the 21st century)

The Lord is my programmer,
I shall not crash.

He installed His software on the hard disk of my heart,
All of His commands are user-friendly.

His directory guides me to the right choices for His namesake.

Even though I scroll through the problems of life,
I will fear no bugs, for He is my backup; His password protects me.

He prepares a menu before me in the presence of my enemies.
His help is only a keystroke away.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,
and my file will be merged with His and saved forever.

[Decison Today-Billy Graham Evangelistic Association]

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TODAY’S DIFFERENCE
As I journey through life help me to walk your walk this day. Let me reach out to those who travel this road with me.  If by only an inch, help me to assist someone along the way this day.  May I keep you in my view, and draw strength from you. And may I always remember to put the least first this day.
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How is it this day that I will make a difference?

Differences are made by hands extended, not heads turned away.
Differences are made by connection, not by separation.
Differences are made by conversation made, not by conversation avoided.
Differences are made by extension, not by retraction.
Differences are made by giving, not taking.
Differences are made by effort, not by inaction.
Differences are made by extension beyond comfort.
Differences are made by pushing beyond the point of weariness.
Differences are made by extending beyond “self.”
Differences are made by taking a certain amount of calculated risk.
Differences are made by moving forward and outward.
Differences are made by recognizing opportunity and acting on it.
Differences are made by getting the words right.
Differences are made by quiet action with little or no public display.
Differences are made one person at a time.
Differences are made one moment at a time.
Differences are made when we give that with which God has blessed us.
Differences are made when we invest time in someone.
Differences are made when we listen well.
Differences are made when we act out of kindness.
Differences are made when we show compassion.
Differences are made when we love.

And so I pray,

Dear Lord, as I journey through life help me to walk your walk this day.  Let me reach out to those who travel this road with me. If by only an inch, help me to assist someone along the way this day.  Oh Lord, may I keep you in my view, and draw strength from you.  And may I always remember to put the least first this day.  [Daniel James]

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Write injuries in sand; kindnesses in marble.  [French Proverb]

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No piece of paper, no matter how large, can be folded in half consecutively more than 8 times!!!

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DEEP THOUGHT:
After all is said and done, in spite of or because of what we may or may not do or think, it is just as likely as not that, for better or for worse, everything will turn out one way or another, sooner or later.

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with!

Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

To ‘find’ God is very simple. You can do this right where you are. Simply pray and confess your sinfulness to God, tell him that you believe Jesus died on the cross for you, and ask Jesus come into your heart and life as your personal Lord and Savior. When you do this, God forgives you for all your sins, cancels your guilt and gives you the gift of eternal life. His invitation is to ALL who ask!

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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