Are We Living For?
What are we living for? What does life mean? Is it perhaps a
stage-play -- are we here to act our part for a few brief moments,
only to disappear behind the stage forever? Or is life a trip that
takes us somewhere, and if so, what is our final destination?
Please think about this crucial issue and answer for
yourself: What am I living for? What values do I embrace? What objectives
am I attempting to reach?
Near the end of his life, the world-famous
singer, Freddie Mercury, drew up his accounts to
see what profit he had managed to obtain. Actually he was an
extremely gifted musical artist and had attained to rare heights of
popularity. He lived a kind of life that pleased him, and besides
fame, he became a millionaire. But apparently nothing enjoyed a
lasting value in his estimation when he looked back at the end of
his earthy journey. He had laid his grip on whatever
the world had to offer - but he hardly had an answer to the question
he asked before his death: "What are we living for?" The
words of his melancholic song are haunting:
Empty spaces - what are we living for
Abandoned places - I guess we know the score
On and on
Does anybody know what we are looking for
Another hero, another mindless crime
Behind the curtain in the pantomime
Hold the line
Does anybody want to take it anymore?
Many centuries before him, the Bible mentions another man,
Solomon, who had similar conflicts. He describes his ambition to
discover new things, his love of philosophy and about his grandiose
projects. He was wealthy and knew how to enjoy and make the best out
of life. To quote him: "Whatever my eyes desired I did not
refuse it to them; I did withhold no joy from my heart."
All his dreams became reality. But the time came when Solomon too
had to settle his accounts. His conclusion is as follows: "Then
I considered what my hands have done, and the labour, and behold,
everything was vanity and racing after the wind."
Vanity...racing after the wind! When he exchanged his dreams into
reality, he discovered that reality is but a dream and an illusion.
Isn't this our common experience? We pursue soap bubbles,
enchanted by their bright colours; we grasped them in the palms of
our hands, only to see them vanish into nothingness.
Still, it seems we cannot live without a purpose. Something
within us impels us to continue pursuing our dreams. Like a thirsty
man lost in a dry desert we roam about seeking for water to satisfy
the thirst of our soul.
What a tragedy it will be if at the very end you realize that
your dreams were nothing but dreams! Then you look back when it is
too late to realize that your life is of no value and vain. You
realize that you never found water, and when you thought you found
it, it was only a mirage. Not to say anything about the fear of
having to face the dismal prospect of death without knowing what to
find or where you are going.
The question becomes more urgent: Why are we living? What's the
purpose of my life? A tree produces fruit. A skylark sings on high.
And I, a human being, what's my whole purpose in life? What is that
immense space in my soul that cannot be filled by the whole world?
What is that thirst that many waters cannot quench?
At one time, a lawyer approached the Lord Jesus and asked him:
"Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" His
question has to do with the purpose of life because God's law is not
arbitrary. It corresponds to the purpose for which he created us,
just as the computer manufacturer provides an instruction manual
according to the qualities and functions of his product. God never
commanded us to fly, simply because he did not furnish us with
wings. But whatever he commanded us to do, that is the very purpose
he made us to fulfill.
How then did the Lord reply to the question: "What is the
greatest commandment?" or, in other words, "What is the
chief aim of man?" Jesus answered: "Love the Lord your God
with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your
understanding. This is the first and greatest commandment."
"What are we living for?" According to the Lord Jesus,
the whole purpose of our existence is to love our Maker. Augustine
expressed this sublime truth in these words: "We are created
for you, and our soul finds no rest until it finds rest in
And yet the student assumes that he will find rest as soon as he
gets a pass mark in his exams. The teenager thinks that he will find
fulfillment in dating, music and drink. Engaged couples think that
they will be content when they get married, build their little
have their first child. The employee thinks he will rest when he
retires. The poor man, when he gets rich. The rich, when he obtains
more riches. And on and on it goes.
I am not saying that these endeavours have the same value, or
that they are wrong in and of themselves. I am simply pointing out
that we human beings are prone to make a stupid choice. We put
something - whether it is good or bad - before or instead of
God. We assiduously attempt to fill that vast space in our soul with
something that is not God.
In the Bible, God complains: "They have deserted me, a
fountain of living water, and have hewn for themselves cisterns,
broken cisterns that can hold no water."
Perhaps you prefer to close your eyes to the fact that the
cistern you are digging is dry and arid. You see, thirst compels you
to believe that eventually you will find some water. But God knows
what he's saying: You will never find water anywhere except at the
only fountain of living water. In God alone.
At one time, the Lord Jesus stood up and cried out: "If
anybody thirsts, let him come to me and drink." His invitation
still resounds today, with relevance and urgency, even for you.
"Come unto me."