Okay, so everyone searches for some meaning in life at some point. I guess it starts when we're very young and we stumble upon some critical questions for the first time. Where did we come from? What is death? Where do we go when we die?
Simple questions from innocent, untainted minds, born out of a sincere search for truth. Impressionable, eager to grasp and understand, willing to accept answers on faith. But this state doesn't last long. We quickly grow and mature, exposed to the realities of life, molded and shaped by our experiences. Responsibilities are accepted - work, family, upkeep and maintenance of our "stuff". Routine and repetition square off against excitement and spontaneity, with the upper hand alternating back and forth. There are those things that bring a sense of meaning to our lives: relationships with family and friends, hobbies and pursuits, charity involvement, careers. We nurture our plans and hopes and dreams for the future, and they tend to buoy our spirits and keep us striving for more out of life.
But in the end, our lives are still finite, with a well defined beginning and an unknown, but certain, end. We're comfortable considering our lives in the context of our cradle-to-grave existence. Many times the comforts and indulgences of life distract and numb us into peaceful oblivion, and we feel no need to consider anything outside the realm of what we can see and hear and touch. But then there are those other times, when we're confronted with the echoes of our childhood questions. Sometimes the lucidity and clarity can be startling. Where did we come from? Why are we here? What does happen when we die? We know there has to be an answer to each question. It stands to reason. The truth is out there, right? Or is it?
There are many who will tell you the truth is wherever or whatever you want it to be. If your belief suits you, then it becomes your truth. You have yours, I have mine, and neither is necessarily wrong. There are many that bristle at the suggestion that there could be one absolute truth that renders all others false. In our politically correct society, there is no right and there is no wrong, only differing shades of opinion.
Call me crazy, but the idea of absolute truth strikes me as perfectly logical. There are certain incontrovertible truths that no one questions. Two plus two always equals four. An object in motion always tends to stay in motion. Every action produces an equal and opposite reaction. The law of gravity doesn't apply some of the time. These truths are universally accepted, and to challenge them would be laughable. Yet the idea of absolute truth is scoffed at simply because it cannot be measured with instruments or explained by mathematical formulas.
What does this have to do with finding meaning in life? It's the basis for my belief structure. If there is absolute truth out there, it provides a solid foundation for answering these critical questions. There aren't multiple answers to the same question, based on preference or whim. There's one. And only one.
So, assuming you buy into this theory, that there is one right answer, the question becomes how to find it? Where and how do I find the answers to the fundamental questions? Our origin is an obvious place to start. One theory is that a bunch of gases and particles and energy came together and exploded, creating the universe as we know it. Within this universe, the building blocks of life existed, and from the ooze a single-celled organism emerged. Over the course of millions of years, this organism continued to evolve into sentient life. Relate this theory to a young child, and the first question he's going to ask is: where did the gases and particles and energy come from? Good question... Not only does this theory not answer the question, but it does little to satisfy the search for meaning. We're here by accident? We're nothing more than a highly evolved species of animal? Doesn't fill me with warm fuzzies.
On the other hand, what if we're not here by accident? What if we were put here? Created here? If it was an intentional act, a conscious decision by a sentient being, that would open the door to purpose. I'm here by design. I am what I am because someone or something wanted it that way. If that's the case, who is this mystery being? What is it like? Wouldn't it stand to reason that it might have patterned us after itself? Given us traits and characteristics that reflect its own essence? Emotions, freedom of choice, preferences, interests. A desire for companionship.
Suppose it did create us this way. Would it put us on the earth just to leave us on our own, viewing us from a distance, removed and uninvolved? Like a child with an ant farm, just an experiment, a science project? Or would it want involvement, possibly even a relationship? Maybe a communion of some sort, between creator and creation. That would constitute meaning, purpose, even belonging. This is what I believe. It gives depth and breadth to everything else in life that I consider important. Life takes on a whole new meaning when viewed in this light. No longer am I aware only of what I can see and hear and touch. No longer must I view my life solely within the constraints of my cradle to grave existence. Life existed before I was born, and will exist long after I die. I came from somewhere, and I'm going to somewhere. The one who created me did so for the purpose of getting to know me. And instilled in me the desire to know him, a desire for truth. Which is what caused me, from the time I was a young child, to ask the fundamental questions.
He also provided the directions, the roadmap to find my way to him. This roadmap is chronicled in the books of the Bible. If you've never considered the Bible as a source for answers, if you only view it as an outdated, useless relic, try taking another look. You might be surprised what you find.
"O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my every thought when far away.
You chart the path ahead of me
and tell me where to stop and rest.
Every moment you know where I am.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You both precede and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to know!
I can never escape from your spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night --
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are both alike to you.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother's womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous -- and how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!
They are innumerable!
I can't even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!"
Psalm 139: 1-18 (New Living Translation)
You can access the Bible online to search or just browse through the version/translation of your choice at Crosswalk. For a translation in modern English, I like the New Living Translation or the New International Version.
If you're looking for truth, you'll find it in Jesus Christ.