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Greg Laurie is the author of 12 inspirational books, which are available online.
Have you ever had one of those seemingly perfect moments in life when everything just came together? It may have been that stunning sunset, that beautiful, star-filled night or that special moment with someone you love. You thought to yourself, “I always want it to be this way.”
But it isn’t.
Maybe you thought when you reached certain goals you have set in life, they would bring complete fulfillment to you.
But they haven’t.
Or when that right person came into your life, the man or woman of your dreams, that would satisfy the sense of longing deep within you.
But it didn’t.
Why is that? From the day you were born, you have been on a quest. You have been searching for that something more, because deep down inside, there is a sense in you that life must have some kind of meaning and purpose beyond mere existence. Maybe you’ve even wondered if you’re the only person who feels this way.
Deep down inside, we are all searching. Even Madonna. She once told an interviewer:
I think a few years ago, I wasn’t sure what I was on this earth for. I think I was mostly concerned with getting things for myself: more clothes, more money, more popularity and more boyfriends. I wasn’t really thinking; I was just doing. Then I woke up and said, “What am I on this earth for?”
Maybe you are wondering, “What am I on this earth for?”
When you are young, you think, “If only I were older, say, 18! The big kids have all the fun!”
When you’re 18, you say, “Twenty-one! That’s the age I need to be!”
Then when you’re 21, you think to yourself, “No one takes me seriously yet. I can’t wait until I’m in my 30s.”
Then you hit 30. You say, “When I’m in my 40s, then I will have arrived! Those are the earning years!”
Then the 40s come, and you find yourself wistfully wishing you were young again: “I wish I were in my teen years again. Man, we had some fun times back then!”
Then the 50s and 60s arrive. And before you know it, you have more of your life behind you than ahead of you.
It’s even funny how we describe the aging process – an analysis attributed to comics George Carlin and Larry Miller:
The terms change with the passing of time. When you are really young, you are “4 and a half.” (You are never “36 and a half.”) You want everyone to know you’re “4 and a half, going on 5!”
When you hit those teen years, you’re “going to be 16.” Of course, you might be 12 at the time, but you’re “going to be 16.”
Then adulthood finally arrives. You “become 21.” Even the words sound like a ceremony: I’ve “become 21!”
But suddenly, things start going downhill. Yes, you’ve “become 21,” but then you “turn 30.” What’s going on here?
You “become 21,” you “turn 30,” you’re “pushing 40,” you “reach 50,” and your dreams are gone. Then you “make it to 60.”
So you “become 21,” you “turn 30,” you’re “pushing 40,” you “reach 50,” and you “make it to 60.” Then you build up so much speed that you “hit 70!”
After that, it’s a day-by-day thing. You hit Wednesday. And when you get into your 80s, you hit lunch. And it doesn’t end there.
Into the 90s, you actually start going backward. You’re “just 92 years young.”
Then a strange thing happens. If you make it to 100 or more, you become a child again. You’re “100 and a half!”
Yes, life passes by much too quickly. And sooner or later, every thinking person gets around to asking the questions, “What is the meaning of life?” “Why am I here on this earth?” “Why do I exist?” and “What should be my purpose in life?”
We all have built into us as humans the desire to achieve something, to make a mark, to distinguish ourselves. We all want our lives to count for something bigger and greater than ourselves. This desire for greatness is not in itself wrong. In Romans 2:6-8, we are told that God “will judge all people according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who persist in doing what is good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and practice evil deeds.” (NLT)
Paul is speaking approvingly of those who seek the “glory and honor and immortality that God offers.” God essentially wired us this way. It’s built into us. The Bible tells us that God “has put eternity in [our] hearts.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) This verse tells us why we find, deep within our souls, a yearning to rise above the commonplace, the ordinary.
But why this desire to make our mark? Because, as humans, we were uniquely created in the very image of God himself. We are the highest of all created beings. We don’t want to think that our lives don’t matter, that existence is somehow meaningless. We want to live life to its fullest. We want immortality, an endless existence and enduring fame.
For instance, some people find a certain type of immortality through fame. Everyone knows their name – such as Tom Cruise, Madonna, Britney Spears and Brad Pitt. Still others are famous for just being famous, like Paris Hilton.
Others find a kind of immortality through becoming infamous, people like Charles Manson, Lee Harvey Oswald, Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler.
Others hope they can prolong their lives by way of all the latest potions and lotions. They are looking for that eternal Fountain of Youth.
I read about a well-known movie star who was once dubbed by People magazine as “the sexiest man alive.” He has just turned 65 and has lived a hard life of drinking, smoking and partying. Now he is determined to push back the ravages of time by devoting himself to a so-called anti-aging regimen. He uses a microscope to study his blood every day. He spends tens of thousands of dollars per year on vitamins and raw food and takes 60 pills daily. But he doesn’t just stop with pills. He also uses a syringe to inject himself with other vitamins. He says, “I suppose [that] deep down, there’s a passion to live forever. Rationally, I know that’s impossible. I know that we all die. I accept the dying process. I would just like to be as healthy as I possibly can at each step and phase along the way.”
He is typical of my generation. We baby boomers want to be “Forever Young.”
But we will not be forever young.
We all have to come face to face with the big questions of life, like:
Why am I here?
What is the meaning of my life?
What happens when I die?
There are answers to these questions, in the user’s manual of life called the Bible.
I suggest you pick it up and read it.
You might even start with the Gospel of John.
I am confident that you will find the answers you have been searching for.
I did and so did millions more, and you can, too.