Lockdown and social distancing are starting to bite. Now, I can’t help but feel the churn again in my mind. I need a handle to hold on to as things spin. I need a focal point in the distance to keep perspective. I can’t find that focal point in my own mind. I can’t pick myself up by my bootstraps. Listening to the wisdom of the world one would easily believe that it is all up to me and I am the master of my own destiny; I am autonomous and I just need to “believe”, have “faith”. What on earth am I to do with that?
Our sense of self was so integrated to our living and doing, and while that was on track, all was good. I could feel good about myself, proud of my work, build my self-esteem and self-worth through my successes and go-gettedness. For many the question now is, Who am I and what does my life mean?
Our lives used to be so busy that we never made the time to ask the hard questions. We did not really need to. Now we better, or else the reality of our experience will overwhelm us. We have got to get a grip on an eternal focal point that puts everything into perspective and brings a coherent meaningfulness to it all, even the struggles and pain.
Yesterday we looked at the beautiful truth that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in His image and likeness. I am not just a better, more evolved animal. I am purposefully made by a personal God who wished me to know Him and, though I am finite, I have full value and purpose.
You see, right from the start, God gave Adam a role, a responsibility: to be fruitful and increase, to fill the earth and subdue it, and to rule over all living creatures. Adam’s role was to husband the earth as God’s vice reagent. He was to bring order and control, manage and build, nurture and make to flourish, all for the glory of God. He was to be good and do good for all of the natural order under God. He was a free agent to use all his creativity and wisdom to make what God has made into something that is more. That is an aspect where the image and likeness of God in us is made manifest.
Many young people today ask the question, What is the meaning of work? For the youth of today, work is a means to earn money so that they can do what they want to, what makes them happy. Something in the work we do today is disconnected from God’s design. For the general person, work is a means to earn money in order to afford one’s life. Now that is being threatened at a nearly universal scale. Threaten my livelihood and it seems my whole life comes crashing down. All the things that define my life, all the external things that have defined my life I now fear will be stripped away, and I am left bare and exposed. Who am I and what is my worth? What is the meaning of my life? I feel I have nothing to stand on. No eternal focal point as things spin out of my control, and I’m afraid.
I am forced to go to the beginning and to understand and try and see where I went wrong. I’ve made the same foolish error as Adam did. I thought I was in charge. I thought I could stand on my own two feet and if I work hard enough and smart enough, I will be okay. I did not need a God. God is for those who need a crutch, who are weak. But suddenly my strength is of no value. My determination is of no value. My control is gone, and I feel so inadequate and small against this situation.
I was created finite, with a primary relationship being upwards towards my Creator. When I discard the truth of me being created, then I am the eternal reference point and it is inside me and now I am really lost. If only I can get above myself for a moment and really consider that He did create me, that I am finite, that He wants to have a personal relationship with me and that He has ordained work to be fruitful and meaningful. When the focus of the work is not an end in itself, but to bring good and goodness to the created order and all who live in it, then one experiences the resonance of being made in His likeness and image. Work was never for myself and my self-aggrandisement. My mannishness is God’s reflection in me. When I work to bring fulfilment to that created order in me and acknowledge that He sustains all, I avoid the trap of thinking too much of myself. I begin to think less of myself and more of others.
Fascinating that it takes a crisis like this to make me realise that if I want to gain my life, I need to lose it. God’s design is that I live for others. The world’s design is that I live for self. No wonder I am a mess.
Why do you work? Why do you spend so much energy and life doing what you do? Where is this taking you? What is the end game? When people look at you, your work and life, how would they answer these questions on your behalf? Maybe you to need to go back to the beginning.
A personal God has made you uniquely out of nothing, with an intrinsic value that is unmatched in all the universe. He has designed you to work, to be like Him in that space, bringing control and order, good and goodness, love to all His creation. Now that is a life worth dying for.
Chat more tomorrow