“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
and My ways are not your ways.”
This is the Lord’s declaration.
— Isaiah 55:8 (HCSB)
Many of us, probably most of us, perhaps all of us at different times, all ask, what is the meaning and purpose of life. What am I here for? What did God make me to do? How do I feel significant in this life that seems so far beyond my personal control?
Funnily enough, the more we search for meaning and purpose in life the further we run from it. Not that it isn’t an admirable activity. Not that it isn’t beneficial, because the search for meaning and purpose is a virtuous practice.
But, in the end, the search is futile if that’s all there is. If the search doesn’t lead us to the end of ourselves, to our smallness in the world, then we haven’t found what God has for us.
Our search should reveal to us two polar-opposed ideas that work together.
We are small. We seem insignificant. We feel we’re at the whim of life. We’ve found that our imaginations plan different realities compared with how the realities work out.
These understandings crucially lead us to God — to His call to stop trying, coercing, manipulating, bargaining, dreaming without end. These understandings lead us to realism, which corrects our predilection for optimism or pessimism. These understandings compel us to stop the search — or at least replace the search with a healthy curiosity for life.
There is a way to peace and understanding that is also beyond understanding, and that place is acceptance, which is true peace.
We are many things we cannot change. We cannot change many things about life. Wisdom leads us to acceptance, which opens our eyes to life’s simple wonders. It’s then that God really begins to speak and to teach us by His Spirit.
The search for meaning takes most our lives to discover. In the end we arrive back in the beginning. We stop searching and start living.
In the end, we realise that God thinks and acts differently to us, His thoughts and ways are beyond us, and that’s okay.
Then, finally, having stopped searching, we begin living in simplicity of wonder.
Living has this advantage over searching. We let life be life.