“Where is my life taking me?” Have you asked yourself that question lately?
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where,” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“So long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
Alice is in good company. At least that’s the most likely explanation for the unexamined life many people lead. We’re all walking on a path, but we may never have considered where the path is leading.
What is the vision for your life?
In the West, many young people seem to have a vision for life at the mall. They are drawn to the glitzy atmosphere of indoor merchandising. Many families have a vision for a middle-class home in the suburbs. Older people are often living with a vision for retirement, the freedom to go fishing or play golf.
An ancient Chaldean, Abram, was living in an animistic, fatalistic culture. Nothing ever changed. From one generation to another everyone lived in the village they were born in. Life was on a wheel; it went around and around.
But then one day something happened that changed Abram’s life, and eventually changed the world. It began when Abram heard a voice.
“Abram! I want you to leave. Leave your home, your culture, leave everything you know.”
“Where am I to go?” asked Abram.
“I’ll show you,” said the Voice.
Imagine the ensuing conversation between Abram and his wife!
“Leaving? Where are we going?”
“I don’t know!”
No doubt some tension and conflict arose between husband and wife. They were probably worshippers of idols kept in their home. Now the one true God was revealing himself, and Abram’s life was turned upside down.
Thousands of years later, an anonymous New Testament writer explained what was driving Abraham (as he would come to be called): He was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God, (Hebrews 11:10 NIV). Abraham was looking for the city of God. This vision was the backdrop of Abraham’s life. He was willing to go into an unknown wilderness because he was looking for the city of God.
What vision is big enough for your life? Marriage, children, a home: all these are good and proper ingredients of a life blessed by God. Yet none is big enough to comprise the vision for your life. Only the kingdom of God is a big enough for your life; you were born to serve the kingdom of God.
The wise person lives with the end in mind. He sees the vision and moves towards it. A fool doesn’t think about the end. Indeed, a fool rarely thinks at all. He wanders aimlessly. This is not God’s intention. He is leading us into the future. We are going somewhere, following the voice of the God of the universe as he takes us to the city of God.
Too many people are just wandering. By the time they realize their folly, it will be too late. To wander through life is to squander one’s years. “For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them,” Proverbs 1:32.
In the Bible we see the Greek word telo, “to set out for a definite point or goal.” This term speaks of the end, as in “The End” of the story, the end of history, the end of the book, the end of the movie.
God has given every individual a purpose, an end for which they were given life. He calls us to live with this end in view.
On my first day of Sociology 101 the professor walked out before several hundred students in the auditorium and asked, “What’s the purpose of the life of a child that dies in infancy?”
I was 19 years old. I had never thought about anything like that. I sat there thinking as the professor paced back and forth like a lion ready for the kill. After several minutes he came back to the microphone with his answer. “The purpose of the life of a child that dies in infancy is to be fertilizer for a tree.”
I was appalled. But I had no answer. I had not started to think about such matters. Now, all these years later, I’m still appalled. Yet I see that he is right … given his assumption of a universe without God. In an atheist’s view of the world, there is no purpose in life. A stillborn child is nothing more than tree fertilizer.
If I saw him today, I would ask, “What’s the purpose of your life?” I would insist that the same has to be true for him. The purpose of his life is to be fertilizer for a tree! If he is honest, he will see that his assumptions take him to the same place. If there is no God, what is the end? To fertilize a tree! That’s all there is.
How many people never stop to think about the purpose of their life?
But how many young people go to universities and don’t even think about the purpose of their life? How many people go through life and never examine their design?
We will all come to an end. How do we get to the right end, the destination for which we were made? That end is found along the path of wisdom. We find it by living in the framework of wisdom, God’s law and ordinances. Wisdom is the path that leads to the end for which we were created.
Toward what end is God working in your life? That you be “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing,” (James 1:4). What is He working for? That you would be like Jesus Christ. The personal end (telios) is to be conformed to the image of Christ. This is God’s will for every Christian, nothing less than the kingdom coming, God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven.
The corporate, eschatological end (teleos) is the return of Christ to marry His bride, the wedding supper of the lamb, and life forever in relationship with our groom. It is the kingdom come, the holy city, the New Jerusalem. The city Abraham was seeking will come from heaven to earth.
You may be going to university. Or grad school. You may be taking your first job, or moving to another city or country. In any case, what path are you on? What will the end be?
Are you allowing society to frame your existence, to decide which path you’re on? Or are you living wisely, with the end in mind?
- From a forthcoming book
 Alice in Wonderland